Tag Archives: Choreography

Conflicted About “47 Ronin”

Related Post: Attack on Titan: Analogy to World War II.

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From Left to Right: Rinko Kikuchi, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada, Keanu Reeves, and Kou Shibasaki.
Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

I am very conflicted about going to see 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves in theaters December 25th.

On one hand, the film seems to have little to do with Chūshingura (忠臣蔵), the original kabuki (歌舞伎) play I read in the “Traditional Japanese Literature” class I took at Sophia University (上智大学) in Tokyo. Moreover, the film has reportedly not done well with Japanese audiences.

BUT, on the other hand, I really want to support the amazing selection of Japanese actors cast in the film. And, for that reason, I’ve devised the following list…

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Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Hiroyuki Sanada (真田広之)

  • Best known for in the U.S.: Dogen on Lost (Season 6).
  • Notable Accolades: He performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and received an honorary MBE award.
  • Why is he awesome?: While filming The Last Samurai (2003), he almost cut off Tom Cruise’s head (“Cruise has brush with death”).
  • Film Recommendations: Sanada-san stars in my favorite samurai film The Twilight Samurai (2002). This film has only two fight scenes (one short and one long), but they are both jaw-dropping in their seemingly effortless choreography and will have you on the edge of your seat!

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Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Kou Shibasaki (柴咲コウ)

  • Best known for in the U.S.: Mitsuko Souma in Battle Royale (2000); she was slated to play Gogo Yubari’s twin sister Yuki in Kill Bill, but dropped out due to other commitments.
  • Notable Accolades: She won a Japanese Academy Award for her performance in Go (2001).
  • Why is she awesome?: She starred in the first Japanese television drama I ever watched called Orange Days (2004) in which she played a deaf character, performing all her lines in Japanese sign language.  Plus, she’s an adorable pop singer (“KISS Shite” by KOH+).
  • Film Recommendations: Shibasaki-san stars alongside Joe Odagiri in one of my favorite Japanese films called La Maison de Himiko (2005) about a young woman who is asked by her dying father’s young male lover to work in her father’s nursing home for gay men.

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Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Rinko Kikuchi (菊地凛子)

  • Best known for in the U.S.: Mako Mori in Pacific Rim (2013).
  • Notable Accolades: She was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Babel (2006).
  • Wh is she awesome?: She’s the first Japanese actress in 50 years to be nominated for an Oscar! Plus, she’s appeared in a number of films with Tadanobu Asano (see below) including his directorial debut Tori (2003).
  • Film Recommendations: I absolutely adore The Brothers Bloom (2009), starring Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, and (of course) Rinko Kikuchi!! :) Kikuchi-san silently pantomimes throughout this film and is an absolute delight to watch.

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Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Tadanobu Asano (浅野忠信)

ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE ACTORS!

Some of these film recommendations might be hard to find outside of Japan. If you’re having trouble finding a title and really want to watch it, message me at gegallas@hotmail.com and I’ll see if I can help! :)

Also, for those of you who go see 47 Ronin, leave a comment here and let me know what you think!

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Copyright 2013 by G. E. Gallas


Note on “The Nutcracker”

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the following images or video!!

One of my favorite operas is Jacques Offenbach‘s The Tales of Hoffmann (Les contes d’Hoffmann). This opera is a fantastical retelling of the life of the German Romantic author E. T. A. Hoffmann,  casting Hoffmann as the protagonist of his own stories.

Placido Domingo performing the “Chanson de Kleinzach” aria.

Désirée Rancatore performing “Les oiseaux dans la charmille.”

Through The Tales of Hoffmann, I developed an interest in Hoffmann and his stories, quickly leading me to Sigmund Freud’s The Uncanny. In Freud’s essay, he uses many of the same Hoffmann stories as Offenbach, but in this case to prove a psychological point (not that Offenbach’s opera isn’t deeply psychological). If I remember correctly, Freud even mentions Offenbach’s opera.

Portrait of E. T. A. Hoffmann

I’m sure you are all wondering, “What does all this have to do with The Nutcracker?” Well, little do most people know, E. T. A. Hoffmann wrote in 1816 one of the earliest versions of The Nutcracker story, entitled The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Nussknacker und Mausekönig).

Alexandre Dumas was also a fan of Hoffmann, employing allusions to Hoffmann’s stories in The Count of Monte Cristo. Dumas even went as far as creating a revision to Hoffmann’s Nutcracker in 1844 called History of The Nutcracker (Histoire d’un casse-noisette), or The Tale of the Nutcracker.

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Towards the end of the 19th Century, Hoffmann’s Nutcracker was adapted to ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, perhaps the most famous incarnation of the tale. I write this post because my dad purchased tickets to the San Francisco Ballet to see The Nutcracker at the end of the month. Perhaps later I’ll add my thoughts on the production to this post.

Tchaikovsky’s music is always wonderful, if not a little too overplayed for the holidays. A lot of people tend to associate The March from The Nutcracker or The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy not with Tchaikovsky, but with the thousands of Christmas commercials that use these pieces. This also happens with The Chinese Tea Dance from The Nutcracker with Disney’s Fantasia and The Sleeping Beauty Waltz with Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

I believe the most creative and exciting production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut. The Hard Nut is set in 1950s America with a very retro feel inspired by the comic artist Charles Burns — a strange but brilliant compliment to the classical music. I hope to one day be able to attend a live performance.

Advertisement for The Hard Nut.

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Copyright 2012 by G. E. Gallas


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