Sunday, April 8, 2007
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
Ryuichi Sakamoto - "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence"
Aside from his work with Yellow Magic Orchestra, his excellent 2005 album Chasm, and his recent collaboration with Christian Fennesz, cendre, I haven't heard very much of Ryuichi Sakamoto. I've long intended to remedy this problem but it remains sadly unaddressed. Seeing some of the films he's worked on would be a good start, probably starting with The Last Emperor, which is probably a no-brainer considering the reviews that I've read of it, and actual recommendations from people I know. The reviews I've read of Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence are decidedly more mixed; I don't know if it's even available on DVD or not, so it's not exactly at the top of my list to rent.
I heard a piece from the soundtrack on NPR late last year, the title track, if you will, of Ryuichi Sakamoto's score. As part of an hour-long program of stories on 21st century Japan (this gaijin finding the piece on hikikomori culture especially intriguing), different pieces of Japanese music were played as interludes, transitions from one report to the next. Near the end of the program, a gentle piano melody was introduced, a simple motif that began gently, like falling snow... or did the flurries outside my window bring on that metaphorical cue? It was a familiar melody, not that I'd ever heard it before, but the bittersweet solitude of it was something I know I'd felt, though perhaps never as eloquently. But this wasn't a sad song. Instead, it possessed an ineffable, nostalgic quality that always affects me but that I rarely experience with such a traditional approach.
Some songs have always taken me to different places, sometimes ones that I've never even seen. I can't say where, it's just too personal and far too embarassing. It's just something I'd prefer to keep to myself, and not taint with mental images of a film, no matter how good it might just be.