Farewell Film Of Japanese Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, Who Died From Cancer, To Premiere At Venice Film Festival

Farewell Film Of Japanese Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, Who Died From Cancer, To Premiere At Venice Film Festival

Shot entirely in black and white with three 4K cameras, Neo Sora's Opus is a poetic yet bold and heartfelt tribute to the Japanese composer.

Its world premiere is expected at the Venice International Film Festival next month. The shooting took place a few days, six months before his death on March 28 at the age of 71.

As of 2014, Sakamoto was battling cancer and could no longer perform, so he turned to film.


Play compositions that have never been performed before on a single piano. It includes a haunting, slow new arrangement of "Tong Poo," an early techno-pop composition by Yellow Magic Orchestra from the late 1970s, when Asian musicians were still marginalized.

"After that, I felt completely empty and my condition deteriorated for about a month," Sakamoto said in a statement.

He lets the piano do the talking for the rest of the film's nearly two hours.

Her fingers lovingly play big notes, sometimes slowly, one thoughtful note at a time. Other times they play the gorgeous Asian chords that define their sound.

After each piece, he takes his hands off the keys and holds them in the air.

"Opus" is a testament to Sakamoto's legendary filmography. He has composed for some of the world's greatest composers, including Bernard Bertolucci, Brian De Palma, Takashi Miike, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Piotr Kominsky and Nagisa Oshima.

It's also proof that the film has come to an end. Comment on the track from his latest reflective album 12, released earlier this year.

When the soundtrack to Sakamoto Bertolucci's 1987 film The Last Emperor plays, emotions run high. The soundtrack, which also featured musician David Byrne, won an Oscar and a Grammy.

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Sora, a director who grew up between New York and Tokyo, says he and the crew wanted to capture the sense of time and eternity so important to Sakamoto that everyone knew this could be his last performance.

All the sounds that would normally occur in post-production, the rustling of clothes, the crunching of nails or Sakamoto's breathing, were deliberately kept in the mix.

"Part of the reason we did the black-and-white shoot was that we thought it also accentuated the physicality of her body, the black-and-white piano keys," says Sora, who is one of The Independent's 25 new faces. The film of the year 2020 according to Filmmaker magazine.

Sakamoto first drew up a scene list, and the directors worked with him beforehand on a detailed conceptual and visual story plan.

Created from the ground up as a film rather than a simple documentary, it features lighting design by cinematographer Bill Kirstein, long takes and lens zooms.

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"We were able to do handheld and key shots that we've never been able to do before," Kirstein said, comparing the footage to the painting.

Hundreds of pounds of weights were placed on the ground so that the camera cart could move smoothly without creaking.

The memorable moment concludes with Sakamoto's rendition of "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" from Oshima's 1983 film of the same name, which earned David Bowie and Takeshi Kitano the Golden Lion.

Sakamoto also stars in the film, playing a WWII Japanese soldier who runs a POW camp. He was young, only 30 years old. However, in many ways the frail, silver-haired man in glasses, hunched over the piano, remained unchanged.

As the film ends with the final tune, Sakamoto is gone, gone to a world some call heaven. The piano under the floodlights plays by itself, reminding us that his music is timeless and still here.

Jeffrey Daniel says goodbye to music's greatest composer, Ryuichi Sakamoto. 🙏💕🎹🎶🇯🇵

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