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Monday, 10 September 2007

Yamamura Koji "Man and Whale"













Man and Whale is a moving and very effective campaign movie made for Greenpeace by Yamamura Koji. Although only 2 minutes in length it manages to convey an alternative Japanese as well as world perspective on hunting great whales for food. It focuses on the ageing headmaster of a school whose office overlooks the sea. His interest in the whale is obvious given the sketches on his desk and wall, together with a pair of binoculars. But today he has not seen any whales. He considers the past when whales formed part of the diet in a poor country. Now in the modern and rich Japan there is no longer that need. How the headmaster harnesses the pupils to save a whale is one strand of the movie. The film is quite beautifully and sympathetically drawn. The present day is in colour, the past in black and white. However it is the recreation of the huge creature, both hauled in by the fishing boats or in its natural element, that the lies at the heart of the movie: the majesty of the beast is captured. Also the enthusiasm of the headmaster and his total commitment is entirely communicated. The presumed brief of the Greenpeace sponsors is to awaken modern Japan to the wonders they have in the oceans. The movie delivers this in spades. Yamamura is a hugely successful movie maker with a great number of films to his credit since his graduation from Tokyo Zokei University in 1987. His exceptional Atama-Yama was Oscar nominated. You can see other samples of Yamamura's work on the dauntingly slick On-Line Theatre. I will look at his other work including Atama-Yama in a further post.

I have decided to include a still from the movies I feature on the blog. I hope it adds something, if only to my workload! I may be tempted to backtrack a little and add images as the mood takes me.

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