Thursday, March 10, 2011

Takemitsu appreciation night

I enjoyed watching -- and hearing -- one of my favorite films last night.
MASAHIRO SHINODA'S "IBUN SARUTOBI SASUKE (SAMURAI SPY)" is a complicated noirish tale of espionage and betrayal in 17th century feudal Japan.

I mention hearing the film because the score was created by TORU TAKEMITSU, a giant of modern Japanese music.

Considered one of Japan's greatest 20th century composers, Takemitsu also contributed scores for a number of my favorite films, including "Kurutta Kajitsu (Crazed Fruit)," "Kaidan," "Seppuku (Harakiri)," "Joi-Uchi: Hairyo Tsuma Shimatsu (Samurai Rebellion)" and "Ran."

In "Ibun Sarutobi Sasuke," Takemitsu artfully introduces traditional Japanese percussion and other instruments into an otherwise jazzy score -- befitting a film released in 1965.

Writing in "OUTLAW MASTERS OF JAPANESE FILM," Chris Desjardins explains director Shinoda's use of Takemitsu's talents:

"Shinoda has been able to merge music into a film's whole, bridging the gap between sound and visuals quite unlike anyone else, employing the towering genius of avant garde composer Toru Takemitsu in an overwhelming number of his movies, in a similar way to how (Alfred) Hitchcock worked with composer Bernard Herrmann."

"Ibun Sarutobi Sasuke" is one of those films that grows in my estimation with every viewing. Last night served as a music appreciation course as much as film appreciation.


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