Friday, November 28, 2008

Rikyu, part 1

This trip's Tokyo interview, part 3, was with legendary film actor Rentaro Mikuni. Mikuni started his career in the early 50's and has appeared in hundreds of Japanese films and TV programs, including titles like Kinji Fukasaku's amazing Wolves, Pigs and Men (1964), Kon Ichikawa's The Burmese Harp (1956) and Masaki Kobayashi's Harakiri (1962) and Kwaidan (1964). We interviewed this living legend, one of the few remaining Japanese actors from the Golden Age (I can't think of many more outside Mikuni and Tatsuya Nakadai), for the upcoming BCI Eclipse DVD release of Hiroshi Teshigahara's historical epic, Rikyu (1989), due out on DVD sometime mid-next year along with its semi-sequel (also by Teshigahara, and also co-starring Mikuni), Basara: The Princess Goh.

Rikyu tells the story of the feud between 16th century Shogun Hideyoshi Toyotomi and his Buddhist tea master, Sen no Rikyu. Rikyu was responsible for creating the modern tea ceremony and emphasizing simplicity over ostentatiousness. Mikuni-san was kind enough to grant us an hour or so, and we were fortunate enough to film the interview at Teshigahara's foundation / school / museum, the legendary Sogetsu Kaikan in Tokyo. This building is jaw-droppingly impressive, housing original artworks from Teshigahara and his father, Sofu, as well as administrating the gigantic Sogetsu School of ikebana and other arts (that's a toko-no-ma scroll painting of an owl by Sofu behind Mikuni-san in the photo above). The entire place smells like fresh flowers - truly. Joining us at the interview (behind the scenes) were several friends from Shochiku, who originally produced the movie, including some of the film's original producers and the producer currently working with director Yoji Yamada. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we're grateful to everyone for all their help—it was truly a humbling experience.

Look for the DVD some time next year in a fully-remastered edition that will blow all those low-quality bootlegs out of the water. Further supplemental interview information to come.