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Docudrama, Historical Drama
This 2005 masterpiece by Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov transforms the story of Emperor Hirohito at the close of World War II into a melancholy meditation on power and its loss. The action is drained of drama (we don’t hear the famous surrender speech, or see much bombing) just as the images are largely drained of color, the better to focus on one of Sokurov’s major themes: the presentation of an individual as split between a body and an almost cripplingly self-aware mind. Close-ups give an odd emphasis to feet on stairs or to Hirohito’s hand as it’s writing, emphasizing the banality of the physical and underlining the oddness of the belief that the emperor is divine, which Hirohito then repudiates. The slow pacing is appropriate to the story of a defeated empire, but the pauses and silences also become spaces in which characters seem to contemplate the strangeness of existence. In English and subtitled Japanese. 110 min.
Director: Alexander Sokurov
Producer: Marco Muller, Igor Kalenov and Andrei Sigle
Cast: Issei Ogata, Robert Dawson, Kaori Mamoi and Shirô Sano

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