”Shizumanu Taiyo”(The Never Setting Sun)wins award of Best Picture at Japan Academy Award

By TERRY - Last updated: 火曜日, 3月 9, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

The 33rd Japan Academy Award  ceremony was held at Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa  in Shinagawa Tokyo on Mar. 5th. 



The Best Picture Award went to “Shizumanu Taiyo”(/沈まぬ太陽,  The Never Setting Sun),and  Ken Watanabe who played the hero’s part in that film also won Best Actor Award as well.

Ken Watanabewhohadwon the Best Actor Award with “Ashita no Kioku”(明日の記憶, the memory of  tommorow) in 2006,   gave a address of  gratitude andjoy of  his second triumph in excitement, saying, “I really wanted this “Shizumanu Taiyo to win the Best Picture Award ,andnowthisactually has won it  with my winning the Best Actor !” .    ken-watanabe-pic-0001 “I really thank Ms.Toyoko Yamazaki ,the author, and my family that waited for me for  long while I was out of  home for a long shooting  in foreign countries, and thank to all the fans  that support this work.”   There had been a few project of filming this novel before, but because of  the complicated plots anddifficult political background, they had been aborted. Yet Watanabe  wrote letters begging Yamazaki to film and adopt him as the main part player several times and finally this project came true.

Just after the announcement of  the Best Picture Award and Watanabe’s speech, there suddenly turned up a surprise guest; Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister of  Japan. He congratulated the film and winners, saying, “Mr. Watanabe, you are really ” the never setting sun” as you made a comeback from a disease.    20100306-939591-1-N “Though I have not seen “Shizumanu Taiyo” yet,  I am quite sure it is a very good film. I think Mr. Watanabe and  other actors played their parts well.  JAL, the company of the locale of the film seems to have actually set but like this film, I do hope it to rise again. ” “My wife says she will make a film once a day, and  I feel the cinema world is full of  huge attractions. So, I keep supporting  also this Academy so that it will overtake the world Academy.”

Watanabe, suddenly being given a compliment from the top politician, shook hands with him and replied in joy saying, ” I am so happy.  It is very good that politicians have interest in films.”  Watanabe suffered from acute bone marrow leukemia in 1989 and 1994 but recoverd and made milaculous combacks. And the Hollywood  movie “The Last Samurai” of  Tom Cruise in which Watanabe played the part of  the tragic and heroic last samurai made him well-known in the international film world, andwith that he was nominated for the Best Actor Award of  Academy Awards in 2003.   And Hatoyama’s wife was a popular member of  Takarazuka  Revue Company, so, Hatoyama may have a good understanding over show-biz world than ordinary politicians.

As I referred to on my previous pages here such as http://www.tenkai-japan.com/2009/11/13/the-20th-anniversary-of-the-emperors-enthronement/ and  http://www.tenkai-japan.com/2009/11/24/test-of-edo-culture-and-history/ , I have personal relationship and connections with that work of both the original novel series and the film version.  Even though the film had already won the Best Picture at the 34th  Houchi Film Awards on Dec.22nd 2009, I prayed for its winning at the Japan Academy and now I am very happy 🙂   http://cinemahochi.yomiuri.co.jp/h_award/index.htm

The story is about a man who once  was a heroic leader of a labor union of a major airlines being respected by the union members, abominated by the management, and forced to work in some middle eastern and east African countries for about ten years like an effective expatriation, and keeping pride and dignity bearing such suffering ordeals.  This work contains descriptions about nasty connections between airlines and related bureaucrats, huge jumbo’s crash at which more than 500 people were killed, unlawful transactions in the international trades,  politicians’  deals,  family ties and human affections.

I am a vice president of  Japan- East Africa Friendship Association “Savanna Club”  and this Club was founded by some Japanese who loved East Africa in 1976. One of the founders who was always at the primary positions and secretary general for a long time was actually the model of the Hajime Onchi the hero of  the “Shizumanu Taiyo” which at the film played by  Watanabe. Toyoko Yamazaki, the author of the  novel was his friend, and when she went to Kenya, the guy guided her, that was when  she heard the anecdotes and backstories about JAL’s  labor unions,  airplane crash, malpractice and so forth . She took interest in those complicated and dramatic political, social and humane aspects of  this huge airlines’ circumstances, especially  the “model guy” ‘s manly attitude of  never compromising to the management  that tried to put him under the pressure. Like described in the work, the model guy was a leader of the labor  union of JAL and loved by so many union members, but abhorred by the management and ” banished” from Japan for about totally 10 years in Pakistan, Iran, and Kenya  as  “punishing transfers”.  Yamazaki being impressed by the model guy’s story made up her mind to write a novel of the airlines and people there based on his stories.  Thus “Shizumanu Taiyo” was written and so soon became a bestseller. Yet the story is based on “half” true facts and “half” fictitious. and this structure caused a friction  between the author and JAL.  That was why some previous projects ended up in vain.

I met the model guy when I was twelve years old when I was just an elementary school pupil. But we went to Pakistan,Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Rwanda together many times. He was always our good leader andmyfriends. With his help we, the club  have donated so much money to African countries, people and for wildlife.  We often worked together in running the club.  In the novel  his family andsomeof his friends were described with arrangements but I recognize some of them as they are my acquaintances. I visited  his home in Nairobi Kenya thatdescribedinthe work, which reminded me of old memories with him. I met  one abbassadordesignate to  Japan  introducedto him at  that residence  of  his in Nairobi who became our friend afterwards. Actually some  ambassadors from east African countries to Japan were his close friends like described in the work.

The model guy was the only one Japanese that had the licence of  pro-hunter  of  Kenya and in the work some hunting scenes were described. But as depicted in the work,  he  stopped hunting in remorse and  started “camera hunting”or “photo safari”  instead,  conducting  nature conservation movements including protecting wildlife.  These movements have become some of our major activities of the club.

The model guy passed away  in 2002 and  I saw and  the last salute to him on the very passing day of  his at the hospital.  To tell the truth, he had appointed me as his successor as the secretary general of the club , andmyfather, who had been his close friend,  making much of  his will, assumed the post  of  president of the club.  We hosted a funeral and special ceremony for him at which not only his bereaved family but Yamazaki was invited and gave speech in tears, saying , “Hajime Onchi (the hero of the novel) was the  hero that has been loved by people the most out of all of my works and the model was actually like himself.  I am  so grieved with loss of  him…”

I read the novel in Kenya and as some locales were in Kenya, I really enjoyed the vivid experience remembering the faces of the models of the characters who were my friends and acquaintances.  And when I saw the film version, again each scene reminded me of my friends and memories with them… So, my impression may be  different from average readers and viewers of the work and touched my heart.

Last September, we invited  Setsuro Wakamatsu, the director of the film to our regular meeting to have him talk about the backstory related tothe filming. Unfortunately I was absent but the widow of the model guy who is also one of our club’s exective members met him there for the first time, and this meeting gave Wakamatsu a  special impression of the “real Mrs. Onchi ” whose part was played by Kyouka Suzuki, a famous actor.   After having seen the film, I called her andtalked about her late husband and the film. She seemed to be happy that many people now share the part of  the memories of  his accomplishments. Therefore, this time again, I will call her andcongratulate upon the winning of  the Best Picture award and  the Best Actor award of  the story which is kind of  based on her beloved husband’s biography.  Though the model guy and Watanabe don’t  look like each other well in figuer but  the atmosphere  of the characters and the behavior seemed to share somehow something in common, which made me thrill.

In addition, as for Watanabe, strangely, I also have a kind of connection. As I  wrote above, he played a part of  the last samurai. The samurai’s character was made as a mixed image of  two real samurais, one of which was Tesshu Yamaoka and the other which was Takamori Saigo.  And TakamoriSaigo,  who was said to be one of the three personages of the Meiji Restoration, was my own distant relative. I keep in touch with some of  his  descendants.  And  Watanabe played the part of  a  real general of the Japanese Imperial Army in the film of  ” Letters From Iwo Jima”  directed by Clint Eastwood, a famous  Hollywood star. General Kuribayashi, the part that Watanabe played in the movie was really the commander and one of  his direct subordinates was my grandmother’ s cousin.   I am surprized at such multiple relationships with the actor who I have never met…

By the way, at the Japan Academy,   some other  big films and  their people won awards. For example, “Tsurugidake; Ten no Ki”(/剱岳;点の記) won the Best Director, the Best cinematography , the Best Supprting Actor and totally  six  best awards which was the record high.  And  The Best Animation Award went to “Summer Wars” which is a bit comical sci-fi work which I saw  and liked because of the  young voice players of  the hero and heroine parts, Ryunosuke Kamiki(/神木隆之介) and Nanami Sakuraba(/桜庭ななみ), who are very popular young stars at the moment and I like. Actually, I have met Kamiki at a party when he was a very young boy.   goods_image02cast_kamikicast_sakuraba

And I also saw “Tsurugidake; ten noKi” , based on a true record of  suvyers who climbed up to the top of  sheer and high mountain to make precise maps as a national project in the Meiji period (about 100 years ago). http://www.tsurugidake.jp/

I saw that majestic and panoramic  film at a movie theater and impressed by the great spectaclar  series of  scenes of  treacherous mountains most of which are “real ”  scenes. I think most of  movies can be enjoyed even with DVD versions or on TV, but some works like this one can be really fully enjoyed with the large screens of theaters. So I am very happy that actually saw it at one.  And  “Grand Trino”  that won the Best Foreign Award was directed and produced by Clint Eastwood who I above mentioned.

I am very happy that I happened to have timely  seen three films of  the Japan Academy Awards at movie theaters, all of which I am really fond of , and even some of them had kind of  ” personal relationships”  with me which gives me a mysterious image somehow.  Now I would like to re-enjoy the works and others on DVDs or  other measures again.

The total results and table of the best awards and the films of  Japan Academy 33rd are as followes;   I  recommend you to watch the films.

★最優秀賞受賞者・作品一覧(The List of  the Best awards and the films )
○最優秀作品賞(The Best Picture) 沈まぬ太陽 (“Shizumanu Taiyo”, The Never Setting Sun)
○最優秀アニメーション作品賞(The Best Animation) サマーウォーズ(“Summer Wars”)
○最優秀監督賞(The Best Director ) 木村 大作(劔岳 点の記) (Taisaku Kimura) (“Tsurugidake; Ten no Ki”, Mount Tsurugi the record of the spot)
○最優秀脚本賞(The Best Screenplay) 西川 美和(ディア・ドクター) (Miwa Nishikawa)(“Dear Doctor”)
○最優秀主演男優賞(The Best Actor ) 渡辺 謙(沈まぬ太陽) (Ken Watanabe)(“Shizumanu Taiyo”)
○最優秀主演女優賞(The Best Actress) 松 たか子(ヴィヨンの妻 〜桜桃とタンポポ〜)(Takako Matsu)(“Viyon’s Wife~the Cherrypeach and the Dandelion~ “)
○最優秀助演男優賞(The Best Supporting Actor) 香川 照之(劔岳 点の記)(Teruyuki Kagawa)(“Tsurugidake; Ten no Ki”)
○最優秀助演女優賞(The Best Supporting Actress) 余 貴美子(ディア・ドクター)(Kimiko Yo)(“Dear Doctor”)
○最優秀音楽賞(The Best Music) 池辺 晋一郎(劔岳 点の記)(Shinichiro Ikebe)(“Tsurugidake; Ten no Ki”)
○最優秀撮影賞(The Best Cinematography) 木村 大作(劔岳 点の記)(Taisaku Kimura)(“Tsurugidake; Ten no Ki”)
○最優秀照明賞(The Best Lighting Direction) 川辺 隆之(劔岳 点の記)(Takayuki Kawabe)(“Tsurugidake; Ten no Ki”)
○最優秀美術賞(The Best Art Direction) 種田 陽平/矢内 京子 (Youhei Taneda/ Kyoko Yauchi)
(ヴィヨンの妻 〜桜桃とタンポポ〜)(“Viyon’s Wife~ the Cherrypeach and the Dandelion~”)
○最優秀録音賞(The Best Recording ) 石寺 健一(劔岳 点の記)(Kenichi Ishidera)(“Tsurugidake; Ten no Ki”)
○最優秀編集賞(The Best Film Editting) 新井 孝夫(沈まぬ太陽)(Takao Arai)(“Shizumanu Taiyo”)
○最優秀外国作品賞(The Best Foreign Film) グラン・トリノ (“Grand Trino”)
Posted in Movie, Old and New Cultural Scenes in Japan • • Top Of Page
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