Daily Archives: February 21, 2005

Director Okamoto Dies

Movie director Okamoto Kihachi, known for his speedy, distinct style, died of esophageal cancer on Saturday. He was 81. He is survived by his wife and producer Mineko (67). Born in Tottori Prefecture, Okamoto graduated from Meiji University and began his film career at Toho Co. Among his best-known works are “Nihon no Ichiban Nagai Hi” (Japan’s Longest Day, 1967), a documentary-style film set on the last day of the Pacific War, and “Dokuritsu Rentai” (Desperado Outpost, 1960), compared by some to Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.” He worked with some of the greatest Japanese actors, including Mifune Toshiro, Katsu Shintaro and Sanada Hiroyuki. His last film was “Sukedachiya Sukeroku” (Vengeance for Sale, 2001).

• At the Berlin Film Festival, Yamada Yoji‘s “Kakushi Ken, Oni to Tsume” (Hidden Sword, Demon’s Claws) failed to win a prize, as competition results were announced on Saturday. Another contender who fell short was actor Issey Ogata, who portrayed the late Emperor Showa (Hirohito) in the Russian film “Taiyo.” The movie deals with the immediate postwar period, up until the time when the emperor publicly renounced his divinity. It’s a controversial subject, especially among right wingers, and there are currently no plans to show the film in Japan.