Tribute to a Musical Pioneer: Ryuichi Sakamoto Double Feature

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Tribute to a Musical Pioneer: Ryuichi Sakamoto Double Feature

Ryuichi Sakamoto was a pioneer in the field of electronic music, and continued to create new works until his death in March. Join us for this celebration of a musician who made his feature debut opposite David Bowie in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and composed scores for several movies and shows including The Last Emperor, The Revenant, and Femme Fatale. 

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda. 2017. 100 m. dir. Stephen Nomura Schible. MUBI. USEnglish / Japanese with English subtitles. Not Rated.

Stephen Nomura Schible’s documentary, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is both a tribute to the artist’s long and ever-changing sound, as well as a methodical peak into his creative process and the nature-based compositions he was exploring at the time. The film recaps his formative years as part of the early electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra, his then present-day work experimenting with found sound, and his process of scoring movies and TV shows. Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is a pitch-perfect introduction to the artist and his music. 

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. 1983. 123 m. dir. Nagisa Ôshima. Janus Films. UK / Japan. English / Japanese with English subtitles. Rated R. Screening on 35mm.

In 1983, Ryuichi Sakamoto made his onscreen debut opposite David Bowie in Nagisa Ôshima’s emotional war drama, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. In the film, Sakamoto plays the duty-bound Captain Yanoi, a stern man who becomes fascinated by one of his camp’s defiant British prisoners (Bowie). Sakamoto not only holds his own against the star who fell to earth onscreen, he also scored the film with an electric composition that plays into the concept of “East Meets West,” and creates a sense of the characters’ forbidden longing. 

The program will begin with Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, and will include a 15 minute intermission prior to the start of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.

Total Runtime: 238 minutes

“Stephen Nomura Schible's documentary, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is not only a portrait of a great artist, but a sensitive and engrossing depiction of the act of creation and its process.”
G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
“Mr. Ôshima has staged the film (Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence) in a spacious tropical setting and filled it with a great number of extras. Even so, Mr. Bowie always stands out from the crowd.”
Janet Maslin, The New York Times

This film is part of the Sounds of Summer 2023 series.

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