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Koji Yakusho shows deep respect for “The Emperor in August” director Masato Harada: ‘I’m really excited to be involved’

The Emperor in August

©2015 TIFF

The Emperor in August, which portrays a behind the scenes picture of the final night before the Pacific War ended, was screened on October 26 during as part a special project for the 28th Tokyo International Film Festival Japan Now section, Director in Focus: Masato Harada. Director Masato Harada and leading actor Koji Yakusho attended a teach-in at Shinjuku Piccadilly, Tokyo.
Leading figure in Showa period studies Kazutoshi Hando adapted the non-fiction novel for the screen. Set in 1945, when the war was about to end, the film describes the efforts of key players of the time like the Emperor (Masahiro Motoki) trying to bring about the end of the Pacific War, Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki (Tsutomu Yamazaki), and General Korechika Anami (Yakusho), showing what happened in “Japan’s longest day” (the Japanese title of the film).
Yakusho has also appeared in other works by Harada, including KAMIKAZE TAXI, Bounce Ko Gals, Jubaku-Spellbound, The Choice of Hercules, and Chronicle of My Mother. Yakusho, who gives a performance that could be called kaleidoscopic, gave a deep bow of respect to Harada, saying “Harada always challenges something new, so I am really excited to be involved”, and “It gets harder and harder the more his production costs go up (laughs).” During KAMIKAZE TAXI there was only one filming camera he used for 24 hours a day, but even then he was the type of director to shoot a lot of material. Now he always has three cameras on the set, but if production costs are raised I reckon he would have about five or six”, said Yakusho, half joking.
In this film Yakusho gives an intense performance of the General Anami, who worries constantly about the Showa Emperor. Director Harada praised Yakusho openly, saying “There are new depths to the actor Koji Yakusho. And I feel that there is even more to uncover. In particular, after shooting has finished and when it is being put together in editing, the arch of his performance is more than could have been achieved with directing. I don’t really understand how he does it, but this time he managed to show more depth than ever before.” Yakusho responded with a humble “Thank you very much. I will do my best to keep it up”, bowing his head deeply.
Regarding the influence of this film, Harada revealed that “the sons of the Anami family have seen this film, and they told me ‘this is the first time our father has ever been portrayed as a father of a family.’ The film could not be shown as a Royal premier, but I have been told that the reigning emperor and empress have seen it.” Harada will make an appearance at the 35th Hawaii International Film Festival (opening on November 22 local time), in which both the current film and KAKEKOMI are entered. Harada was enthusiastic, saying “I’ll be doing a post screening Q&A session and lots of different talks, and I’m really interested in hearing what people’s reactions are.”

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KEIRIN.JPThe 28th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
27th Tokyo International Film Festival(2014)