Japan 2005


Suddenly, completely out of nowhere, Kitano’s next film was announced during Cannes 2005, with a huge black banner with big red letters spelling "Takeshis’", and with smaller white letters "500% Kitano – nothing to add". Instant confusion and curiosity. Instant clicking onto Office Kitano. Instant frustration. No synopsis, no cast, no poster. Not even a trailer… that until mid July, where a teaser began running the theatres in Tokyo, and from September 1st on Office Kitano, showing Kitano tap dancing on a railroad track.

The silence wasn’t broken until Toronto, where it was announced that Takeshis’ would run in their masters program, thereby sort of ruining the elaborate stunt planned by Kitano, who unannounced showed up in Venice and in the very last minute "Takeshis’" as the 12th and last entry in the competition. Of course Marcus Moeller had known this all along, but for the public, the surprise was almost total.

Kitano had hardly sat foot in Venice, before an invitation only press screening and later the same day the first public screening took place. The reaction was cold, to say the least. Casual applause from the shy, boo-ing from the not so shy, and in general people shouting “Give us our money back!” One critic even announced, “We love your dreams, but we are not your therapist!

Clearly the audience was confused and frustrated about the film. Not surprisingly. There is literary no plot, rather reality blended into fantasy blended into dreams blended into reality. It is deconstructed to the last frame, arranged along the ideas of cubism, where Kitano edits using sounds, images, impulses and suggestive dreams as cause for his idiosyncratic cause / effect ellipsis. But he had warned the audience ahead. In a statement from the director, Kitano had explained the background for the film and had asked the audience not to attempt to analyse the film, but instead just to let go and feel the film, and in the press conference afterwards, Kitano said, "I want audiences to come out of this film not knowing what to say or what to think.

But somehow they didn’t listen to what Kitano had to say. After all, they were critics, they could understand a film instantly, and if they failed to do so, it was the directors fault. Takeshis’ was bombed.
Returning home to Japan to vote in the elections, Kitano was asked about his reactions to a confused European audience, to which Kitano amused said, “Sometimes it is good to be confused.

"Takeshis’" tells the story of Beat Takeshi, the real life Kitano, who is famous and knows everyone, who by chance meets his blond doppelganger, a shy convenience store cashier named Kitano Takeshi, who, still an unknown actor, is waiting for his big break. After they have met, Kitano begins to hallucinating about becoming Beat, and the more he is turned down at the daily auditions, the more intense his dreams become.

Kitano conceived the idea some twelve years ago during the shooting of Sonatine. Then called Fractals, the idea was to depict how an ordinary persons dreams would create an imaginative world, where the dream personas dreams would create another imaginative world and so on, going back and forth between his actions in reality and those in his imaginary worlds. While Kitano talked about arranging his images according to the ideas of cubism, he used mathematical terms when describing the structure of the film, “The film can be solved using algebraic solution or factorization with x,y,z,α,γ,β, even Σ, but there is one element which is logarithmic ellipsis, so there would be one thing which is unsolvable.

The project was for many reasons put off thru the years, until now, where Kitano rewrote the storyline and made himself the protagonist.
Takeshis’ is the most personal film to date from Kitano. There is so much of him in the film, carefully camouflaged and altered to keep his privacy. Beat is part the real Kitano, part the perception of how the mass audience perceives him, both thru his films and thru the gossip. Here, Beat is an egocentrically megastar, who as an actor stars in mindless actions films, where he does little than shooting people. In one scene, Beat is sitting in a Porsche (the red one from "Getting Any?") on an Okinawa beach (the location of "Sonatine") and suddenly dozens of policemen and samurai appear in front of him and just as suddenly Beat stands in front of the Porsche with a machinegun in each hand blasting them away, them not hitting him. Either you get the joke, or you don’t.

And getting the joke is the key. Before you even can begin to think about analysing the film, you must get the joke. You must be able to see what Beat and what Takeshi represent. You must be able to see why for instance Terajima Susuma constantly pops up and tells everyone, that Kitano has forgotten about him. It is all about who Kitano is and what his films are about.

To me, "Takeshis’" is a second “suicide” attempt by Kitano, like Getting Any?, not only because of its very essence, but also because the title can be read as Takeshi and Shis (shisu meaning to die in Japanese), suggesting the title meaning Takeshi Dies. When asked, Kitano noted upon this and pointed out, that Takeshis’ marked the finale, the end of one stage of his career as director.

To view "Takeshis’" as a “suicide” is intriguing. For the sake of argument, somehow the sudden worldwide fame thru Zatoichi made Kitano feel uncomfortable, because he gained so much fame thru a film that really wasn’t his to begin with. On one side we have ten films by Kitano, who “no one” has seen, and on the other side one film he was asked to make, which “everyone” has seen, which made more money than all his ten other films combined. And in the words of the great master, “It’s like, the more dignified or serious the situation is, the more nervous and stressed I get, so I have to do something funny to shake it off, to make me relax. It's just an instinctive reaction I have.” Thus in order to shake the image based on Zatoichi of him, he made Takeshis’, an idea which coincides with what he told Joan Dupont, “I wanted to make a movie that can't be pigeonholed.

Another way of interpreting the title is it being plural, suggesting multiples Takeshi, an interpretation the films tagline, 500% Kitano – nothing to add!, supports. There are indeed many Takeshis. There is the famous comedian, the TV icon, the public persona of being a celebrity, the actor, the director, the private after work Takeshi and so on. Each is unique, each so different, yet all is the same person: Kitano Takeshi. Kitano himself calls "Takeshis’" a very confessional film, a film which comes deep from his heart, where he exposes part of himself.

Once the joke is passed, "Takeshis’" blossoms up and is, in my opinion, Kitano’s most accomplished film to date, where he continues to develop his ideas of reality vs. irrealty, which he began in Dolls, of kinetic cinema and of elliptic structures to reduce narrative to a minimum of scenes, while at the same time, it being mostly dreams, being allowed to create images, sequences and scenes, which has been with him for over a decade. The technical side of "Takeshis’" is very important to Kitano.

When I talked to him in Paris before he surprised everyone in Venice, Kitano pointed out, that his intentions with the film was, " make people uncomfortable… I wanted people to wake and sit up and pay attention to even the smallest details of each frame, to listen carefully to even the most trivial dialogue, to study tiny visual hints and then observe how they would lead up to what follows.

Clearly, "Takeshis’" is not a film, where you just can sit down and then 108 minutes later say, “What a great film.”, or for that matter, “What a bad film”. Each image, each cut, each sound, each situation is personally important to Kitano, so important, that he for the first time ever asked the audience not to judge it at face value, but to let the experience of it sink in before trying to understand it.

As a Kitano film, it is a masterpiece. It is everything Kitano is about, as person, as megastar, as auteur. It displays a Kitano which has taken a quantum leap in terms of elliptic structures and plurality. It displays a Kitano, who is tired of being told by people who have no idea of whom he is who and what he is.

"Takeshis’" is Kitano’s most personal, original, inventive, bold, genial and accomplished film as a director.

Takeshis’ – 500% Kitano – Nothing to add!

Henrik Sylow (

Theatrical Release: September 2nd, 2005 (Venice Film Festival)

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DVD Review: Emotion - Region 2 - NTSC

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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Region 2 - NTSC

Runtime 1:47:31

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.70 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese, 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese
Subtitles English, Japanese, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Emotion

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Takeshis' Takeshi (29:01 / 16x9)
• Takeshis' music video (3:22 /4:3)
• Teaser (0:37 / 4:3)
• Trailer (1:38 / 4:3)

DVD Release Date: April 7th, 2006

Chapters 16



Comments The transfer displays apart from macro-blocking, some edge enhancements, color banding, and other artifacts. The film is somewhat grainy to begin with, but this is a little disappointing.

Sound comes in either 2.0 Dolby Digital or 5.1 Dolby Digital. The use of surround is superb. Kitano has arranged sounds with as much care as his images, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital track allows the various channels to come to live.

The additional material mainly is a 30-minute making of, which is a hybrid between your typical Japanese B-Roll making of and your European interviews. The interviews are good. Kitano explains background for the film.

 - Henrik Sylow



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Region 2 - NTSC



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