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The associate artist Ryuichi Sakamoto has made film music for over thirty films. He got his start in 1983 with the film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence by film director Nagisa Oshima - a film he also played a role in himself, alongside David Bowie. He went on to compose soundtracks for Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1987), The Sheltering Sky (1990) and Little Buddha (1994), for Pedro Almodovar’s High Heels (1991), Oliver Stone’s Wild Palms (1993) and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant (2015). As well as for many smaller, but no less interesting films, like Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2004).

The collaboration between the Holland Festival and associate artist Ryuichi Sakamoto is a reason for Eye to put the spotlight on Sakamoto’s impressive oeuvre of film music and the ways it continues to inspire new generations of (film) composers.

There are a few interesting similarities to be noted between Gohatto and Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1983), Nagisa Oshima’s better known film for which Sakamoto also provided the score. Both films deal with the attraction between males in unlikely environments. In Merry Christmas it is a POW camp, in Gohatto a hierarchical group of elite samurai, where the arrival of a stunning young samurai warrior creates tension and causes passions to run deep.

The perceptible development of Sakamoto’s film music is also interesting because of the similarities between these two films. Gohatto’s score, that was made sixteen years later, is significantly more abstract, with Sakamoto occasionally introducing more soundscapes and also punctuating the score with the glitchy electronics that characterize some of his later solo albums.


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