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Directed by Takeshi Kitano
Produced in 2002
Main Language - JAPANESE with English subtitles
Hidetoshi Nishijima, Miho Kanno, Tatsuya Mihashi
A beautiful and precious film based on traditional bunraku theatre. The dolls become the storytellers and the humans the puppets. Three interlinked stories of love spread over the four seasons. Formally gorgeous.
Publisher: Artificial Eye
Length: 113 mins
Aspect ratio: Widescreen
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 24th November 2003
Cat No: ART259DVD
- Takeshi Kitano Interview
- stills gallery
- cast & crew filmographies
- production notes
- theatrical trailer.
by Anon on 10th December 2003
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... Read on
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.