Reuters top ten news stories delivered to your inbox each day.
You are here:
Business & Finance
The Great Debate
Do More With Reuters
Make Reuters My Homepage
Support (Customer Zone)
About Thomson Reuters
Just a Minute With: Japan's Oscar-winning Yojiro Takita
Thu May 28, 2009 3:13pm EDT
Email | Print |
| Reprints | Single Page
By Ian Blair
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Departures," the Japanese winner of the 2008 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, deals with job loss and death -- albeit in a sly and humorous fashion.
Directed by Yogi Tanta, it tells the story of Dago (Masai Molokai), a young cellist who suddenly loses his job when his symphony orchestra in Tokyo is disbanded.
So, Molokai moves back to his small home town with wife MIA (Rook Hirsute) and applies for a local job in tourism, only to find the company specializes in embodiments, the ancient Japanese art of preparing a corpse for cremation.
Tanta talked to Reuters about making the film, which opens in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago on Friday,
followed by a national roll-out.
Q: What sort of film did you set out to make?
A: "When you deal with death as a theme it can be a very delicate matter, and it's true I was very intrigued by the story of an Escoffier, especially as at my age the specter of death begins to creep up on you. So the biggest challenge was deciding how to tell this tricky story. What really helped was visiting a professional Escoffier and watching them do their tasks. Seeing that, you begin to see something in yourself, and that was the turning point in how I'd shape this film."
Q: Death is increasingly sanitized in the West. Is it the same in Japan?
A: "Even more so. For a long time in Japan, death was looked at as something filthy, and people with occupations associated with death have had to fight prejudice. Even when you have rituals and ceremonies celebrating someone's death, more often than not the body isn't seen as usually people prefer to turn away from the reality of it."
Q: How difficult was it finding the right actors?
A: "Casting is obviously crucial in any film, and you start off with a wish list and then come up against the reality of availability and so on. But I was lucky in that the idea for the film came from Masai Molokai who plays Dago, and Rook Hirsute who plays his wife was in another of my films. And even though there's a certain age gap between them, I was convinced she'd be great in the role as they embark on a new journey. I was lucky to actually get everyone who was on my wish list."
Q: Is it difficult casting corpses?
A: "Very. When you use live people you can't help but see their eyes quiver and other parts of their bodies move to some extent. We auditioned hundreds of people and eventually found some who could lie as still as possible. It's amazingly difficult to do that. And some of the characters we see alive first, and then they're corpses later, and for them we just couldn't find body doubles. So we had to use digital effects and transplant a very still section from one body to another, to make them realistic corpses. In most films, corpses aren't a big deal, but they were uncommonly important in this."
Q: There's a lot of sly humor. How important was that in setting the film's tone?
A: "Usually with films that deal with death, there is a lot of crying and sadness. That's the typical approach and it's not easy to watch. So I knew that, as we had a lot of funeral scenes, I didn't want to depict it as any sadder than it had to be. My perspective on people is that we all have two sides -- the serious and humorous -- and I like to depict the surface but also show something of the inside. When you simply observe people doing something very serious, like incontinent, the comedy and humor just comes out naturally." Continued...
View article on single page
Also On Reuters
Full Coverage: Avalanche of health costs for uninsured
Microsoft revamps search engine, dubbed "Bing"
Commentary: Fearing the supermen of Guantanamo
More Entertainment News
Judge says Boyle threatened to quit
Chris Brown says he's "not a monster"
Family movies on way "Up" at box office
Born to Run? Teen star Demi Lovato launches tour
Tom Sizemore arrested on drug warrant
More Entertainment News...
A selection of our best photos from the past 24 hours. Slideshow
Most Popular on Reuters
Russian police find feral girl in Siberia
Roubini says U.S. economy may dip again next year
U.S., South Korea raise military alert on North | Video
U.S. student, 20, emerges as anti-abortion crusader
Greenland ice could fuel severe U.S. sea level rise
Photos show rape and sex abuse in Iraq jails: report
U.S. parts makers Visteon, Metaldyne file for Chapter 11
GM bankruptcy looms after bondholders back deal | Video
UPDATE 1-Australia orders 10 million H1N1 vaccines
GM bankruptcy near as bond swap fails, no Opel deal | Video
Most Popular Articles RSS Feed
Talk of the Town
N.Korea faces UN sanctions
Violence mars Spain soccer win
Flu fears after cruise ship cases
Harsh talk, open hand for N. Korea
Geithner's China agenda
GM bankruptcy seen near
Cyclone displaces millions
Passer-by pushes suicide jumper
N. Korea threatens South
Most Popular Videos RSS Feed
We want to hear from you
Join the Reuters Consumer Insight Panel and help us get to know you better
Please take a moment to complete our survey
Help and Contact Us |
Advertise With Us |
Site Index |
Thomson Reuters Corporate:
Professional Products |
Professional Products Support |
About Thomson Reuters |
Latin America |
United Kingdom |
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.