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Film Details

Directed by: Takeshi Kitano

Produced: 2002

Countries & Regions: Japan

DVD Details

Certificate: 12

Format: DVD

Region: Region 2

Released: 24 November 2003

Cat No: ART259DVD

Extras:
Anamorphic (16:9)
Languages(s): Japanese
Subtitles: English
Interactive Menu
Dolby Digital 2.0

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Dolls

Cast: Kyoko Fukada , Tatsuya Mihashi , Miho Kanno , Hidetoshi Nishijima , Kayoko Kishimoto , Ren Osugi , Kanji Tsuda , Tsutomu Takeshige , Yuko Daike , Chieko Matsubara

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Takeshi Kitano writes and directs this Japanese drama that takes the form of three short stories inspired by Japanese Bunraku puppet... Read More

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Takeshi Kitano writes and directs this Japanese drama that takes the form of three short stories inspired by Japanese Bunraku puppet theatre. The first story concerns a young couple roaming the countryside, bound by a red cord. In the second, an elderly yakuza returns to the park where he used to meet the girlfriend he abandoned. Whilst in the third story, a pop star becomes a recluse after an accident, leading one of his fans to visit him and prove the extent of her devotion.

Takeshi Kitano only directed Violent Cop, his debut behind the camera, when the director originally slated to helm the project dropped out at the last minute. This was 1989, and at the time he was just 'Beat' Takeshi, a stand-up and TV star, and not someone the Japanese public took seriously as a big screen player. It was only eight years and six films later, when his superlative Hana-Bi won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, that he was rightly recognised in his own country as one of the most important figures in world cinema. By this stage he was not just that, but also game show host, radio presenter, newspaper journalist, novelist, composer, artist and, of course, actor.

It was the joyful comic road movie Kikujiro, the follow-up to the profound and pensive Hana-Bi, that showed how effortlessly Kitano could go from one extreme to another, both times creating something exceptional. He was confirmed as a genius, and the ultimate renaissance man. His next film, Brother, a misconceived attempt to break the American market, was a slight blemish on the Kitano CV, but encouraged him to return to Japan, and once again tackle unexpected subjects.

Dolls uses as its inspiration Bunraku puppet theatre, a traditional Japanese form of entertainment, adopting the Bunraku themes of love, sacrifice and death to form a dramatic tapestry of three intermingling stories. The primary narrative strand, a modern interpretation of an old Bunraku story, concerns a young man who gives up a successful life with his boss's daughter to wander penniless with his true love, tied to her by a red rope. The second story shows the opposite situation, in which a man sacrifices love for money, and shows an ageing yakuza reunited with the lover he left thirty years before. The third is a tale of obsessive love, in which the fixated fan of a young pop star goes to extreme lengths to prove his loyalty to her.

While his previous films have all had their pensive moments, here Kitano deliberately chooses a much slower pace to lingeringly examine his themes. Though the plots are old fashioned and clearly somewhat contrived, their very similarity to each other allows the closeness of observation and comparison that Kitano is looking for. Ultimately, this is a surprisingly restrained and cautious film for Kitano, yet nevertheless brave and ambitious, managing strange moments of magic and haunting beauty that we know no one else but this remarkably versatile artist could create.

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