Friday, December 4, 2009

Living God: The Sun

Solntse/The Sun (2005) - Sokurov
Emperor Hirohito, who was responsible for WWII and unimaginable atrocities around Asia under Japanese Occupation gets a slight, unsatisfactory treatment from Alexandre Sokurov as a part of his tetralogy(Moloch/Hitler, Taurus/Stalin and Faust on the way). It takes place in the last couple of days before his infamous speech that broadcast all over Japan denouncing his divinity as Japan surrenders unconditionally to Allied Forces, thus effectively ending WWII.

Hirohito(Issey Ogata), is seen in his hideout bunker/biology lab, going through daily routine that is set up for him by his servants. A marine biologist by profession and fan of Darwin, he admires a hermit crab for its perfection, a miracle of nature. And we get to see Sokurov observe and dissect him for an hour and forty minutes. With his fish mouth and facial twitch, Ogata's Hirohito is not an attractive specimen, far from perfect. Never sentimental nor dramatic, the Sun mostly concentrates the encounter btwn the emperor and Gen. MacArthur. Their exchanges are short but pointed and funny. "How do you feel being a living god?" Asks the Supreme Commander. Hirohito replies, "It's not easy being an emperor." The emperor is a well educated, multilingual, intelligent man who has his own opinions on the war strategies and even acknowledges the psychological nationalistic fervor of his soldiers alone wasn't enough against well equipped, overpowering Americans. There are constant funny bits about vulgar Americans calling him Charlie(Chaplin) because of his short stature, his top hat and mustache, and MacArthur treating him like a child(in a sense he is). MacArthur even sends a case of Hersh's almond chocolate bars as a gift.

There are some strange CG scenes as the emperor imagines Tokyo getting bombed by flying fishes. The sound design - constant bird chirping, radio wave noise, is very unnerving yet doesn't quite fit the solemness of the film.

The Sun does not trivialize its subject nor it digs deeper into the infamous man's innerlife. It's all very surface-y and coldly observed. I mean, I didn't expected it to be like the super dramatic Last Emperor or anything, knowing that it's a Sokurov movie. It has more common with Last Days as a (sort of) biographical film. Then again, it's a historical figure who's responsible for millions of deaths and atrocities and not some musician who offed himself. A lot more needs to be said about the man and Sokurov didn't deliver.

No comments:

Post a Comment