Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why did I suddenly remember this?

Always Sunset - 2, a lovely if traditional Japanese move set in the late 1950s, that I saw on the plane back from Burkina Faso.
Spring, 1959… four months after the events of the first film. The Olympics in Tokyo has officially been announced, and Japan is about to take its first step into a period of high economic growth. Chagawa has been living with Junnosuke but is still unable to forget Hiromi, the love of his life who had left Third Street without a word. One day, Kawabuchi returns to take Junnosuke away. Chagawa is given permission to take care of Junnosuke on the condition that the child enjoys an ordinary standard of living. To prove himself to Kawabuchi and to show Hiromi that he has become a better man, Chagawa begins to write a literary piece to win the Akutagawa Prize, a dream that he had given up long ago.
Isn't that weird? One of the main characters in this ordinary working class neighborhood wants to win the Akutagawa Prize, and everybody knows what the prize is and wants him to win (they help him etc.). This is 40 years ago when Japan was very poor, though obviously wealthy compared with much of present day Africa. But hard to imagine any ordinary person in Lagos, Nairobi or any urban center in Africa knowing or caring about a literary prize. And even more bizarre, his story (of course he wins, what, did I spoil it for you?) sounds like the most trite, ordinary story (well, on the basis of them reading aloud the final closing line... and admittedly I'm going by the subtitles ;-). Why, even the most ordinary writer in Central African Republic could write a story like that! So we need a major donor to come up with prize money and publicity please!

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