Beat Takeshi's Latest Movie

Director, actor and comedian Takeshi Kitano, aka Beat Takeshi, is in the midst of his latest project, which promises to be one of his best yet: his movie version of the story about master swordsman Zatoichi.

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The movie will be released in Japan in September. Kitano who directed films like “Fireworks” (Hanabi), “Brother,” “Dolls,” and “Violent Cop” is trying his hand on a period piece for the first time.

Zatoichi is a master swordsman who goes through daily life as a blind masseur and gambler. The role was made famous by actor Shintaro Katsu in a whole series of films produced between 1962 and 1989. “In Japan, the Zatoichi character has been virtually synonymous with the late Mr. Shintaro Katsu,” says Kitano. “From the beginning, I was aware that if I was going to play this character, I had to direct the film myself and make Zatoichi my own. The first thing I did was dye my hair blonde.” He didn’t limit the changes to a quick hair dye. “With the help of our choreographer, I consciously composed the sword fighting to have a more intense and realistic look, unlike typical period films where victims fall even though the sword doesn’t come close to touching their bodies.” Kitano adds.

Zatoichi will be shown at the 60th Venice Film Festival. Kitano’s “Fireworks” won the festival’s Golden Lion award for the best film in 1997. “Dolls” was screened for the main competition section of the festival last year.

Kitano’s period piece comes in the middle of a wave of renewed Japonism, or perhaps nationalism, in Japan. Book publishers can’t keep up with the demand for books about correct usage of Japanese, kimono and clothes based on kimono are enjoying unprecedented popularity, and politicians are talking about redefining Japan’s role on the world stage. Some of this will be undoubtably reflected in coming fashion trends.

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

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