I TiVo’ed this off of Film4 AGES ago and just hadn’t got around to watching it. seeing as I have been suffering with a severe chest infection for about 10 days now, it was the ideal time to get through a backlog of films.
I don’t really know what I thought this was about – something to do with planes or airports or tourists probably – but it’s an absolute gem.
Masahiro Motoki stars as Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist in a Tokyo orchestra. When the orchestra is disbanded, Kobayashi’s debts are too much for him and his wife to handle. He is forced to sell his cello and return to the town where he was brought up. His mother died two years previously, leaving him the family home as his father had left when he was six.
He looks for work and stumbles across an advert asking for someone to help with ‘departures’ – no former experience necessary. Him and his wife decide the job must be for something like a tour guide and so he applies and goes along for an interview.
After a rather bizarre interview, he discovers that the job is to help with ‘the departed’ – as an ‘encoffiner’, performing a cleansing and preparation ritual for the newly deceased in front of their loved ones, readying the body for the funeral.
This is an absolutely beautiful film (with a lot of cello music unsurprisingly), and explores reactions to death, loyalty and tradition. The way the ritual itself is performed is breathtaking and dignified, and makes you wish that everyone was treated with such respect after death.
It is also extremely funny, the comic elements flowingly easily with the more emotional.
I loved every single minute of it – it didn’t even seem corny when he played the cello on top of a hill, as the music fit with the montage of the different families paying their respects to their loved ones beautifully.
You HAVE to watch this. My rating – 10/10
BBC Breakfast really manages to piss me off with its shoddy journalism and Daily Mail approach to everything. I hate it.
And yet, I still manage to end up watching it every morning, as The Man puts it on while he’s getting ready for work, and it’s just become habit.
So – when I’m NOT screaming at The Girl first thing in the morning, I’m screaming at Bill and Sian for being crap.
Anyway, I would like to point out that I am not in any way belittling what has happened in Japan, and I know that it is horrific – I have watched so much footage, and heard so many statistics on how many people’s lives have been affected. My heart goes out to all of those that have already been involved, and I can’t even begin to imagine what they are going through.
However, this morning, BBC Breakfast had some young British guy on the phone who has been living in Sendai, and the new angle that they were approaching this from was that there isn’t enough food. That the supplies are running low.
Now this seems awful for anyone in the developed world to imagine. We’ve all witnessed how decimated Sainsbury’s looks around Christmas, and had a panic that that we can’t find any sponge fingers for the trifle – so can you imagine what the UK would be like if there simply wasn’t enough food full stop?
They kept mentioning that everyone is having to queue for food, and how awful it is. And I felt awful – I’d seen the images of Haiti when their food supplies had dried up – it was heart-breaking. And then they asked the guy, “So, we understand that you have had to queue for food today.”
And he replied, “Yes. I went down to the shops and I had to wait around half an hour.”
I couldn’t quite believe what I’d heard. Half an hour? BBC Breakfast were making a huge deal about a guy who had waited for food IN A SHOP for half an hour? I’ve spent longer than that queuing up in bloody Asda in Walthamstow!! Half an hour?? And Bill and Sian still managed to look horrified.
I believe this is another example of shoddy journalism. I know that there are people in Japan who are really suffering, people who have lost everything, and yet we get some bloke on the phone (probably just cos he’s British) who is inconvenienced as he had to queue up for half an hour?
BBC Breakfast need to get real. And get researching.
I had a nice quiet, lazy Sunday afternoon yesterday. Housework done, pot of coffee brewed, nice lunch eaten, slanket donned, it was the perfect time to sit down and watch a total bloodfest!
I love this film. I think I first saw it in about 2001/2, when it was supposedly banned (I have never confirmed that it actually was banned, so don’t quote me on that!)
The film was set in the very near future (2002, I believe) and the premise is that an economic downturn in Japan has thrown the country into turmoil. There is massive unemployment and the government is losing control, and the teenagers have rebelled. In an attempt to regain control over youth culture, the government have introduced the Battle Royale Act where a random class of students are whisked away to a deserted island, given weapons and made to fight til there is only one survivor.
Yes. It’s a blood fest, but it’s an amusing blood fest, and to be honest, the blood isn’t even very realistic I think I read somewhere that even though there was a huge amount of shooting going on, there were only two of the kids that were equipped with proper blood squibs – which shows how realistic it wasn’t!
Chigasu is one of my favourite characters, in her yellow tracksuit, which is quite fitting as she went on to star as the mental one in Kill Bill.
Youth culture is a huge thing in Japan. Everything seems so childish over there because it’s all aimed at the kids, and I think Battle Royale really highlights that. And amongst all the running, shooting, killing etc, the kids are going through stuff that kids go through – they have their cliques that turn on each other, they have the cute one that they all fancy, there’s the boy that’s never told one girl that he likes her etc.
I love the countdown as the kids are killed off. there is a message after each: “XX, boy #4 – 23 to go” etc. It really is quite tongue in cheek. Probably best highlighted by the training video that they are shown when they are first told what they are going to have to do (see below). And the guy who plays the teacher is fantastic – comic genius!
This film is definitely in my Top 10 favourites, but if you’ve never watched it before, you DO have to just go into it wanting to be entertained and just suspend the thought that it’s a bunch of teenagers killing each other off.
My rating 10/10