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The Sun

September 9, 2010

The Sun (2005)
Director: Alexander Sokurov
Actors: Issey Ogata, Robert Dawson, Shiro Saro

Synopsis: The final, intimate days in power of Emperor Hirohito (Issey Ogata).

Review: Although clearly favouring an audience with interest in Second World War history – in particular the cult of ‘divinity’ surrounding Japan’s Emperor Hirohito – this is an unequivocally fascinating cine-portrait by Alexander Sokurov. Getting right under the skin of his subject, Sokurov successfully dramatises the perforating of the bizarre cocoon around the Emperor through means both dramatic (his showdown with conquering Allied General MacArthur) and comic (in a scene where the Emperor invites a starstruck scientist to an audience at his palace). Sokurov extracts every last drop of juice from the material – each scene utilising some kernel of cinematographic flair – and the expressionistic use of mise en scene to convey the perpetual unreality and artifice of the Emperor’s life is a particularly magnificent touch. Following on from the brilliant tour de force that was Russian Ark, The Sun’s beguiling quality confirms Sokoruv’s status as one of the best filmmakers on the planet. (March 2010)

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