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Story Director Introduction Long Synopsis
Cast Staff Director's Statement Producer's Statement
story

In the 1960's OKINAWA, the most southern islands in Japan, is under American military occupation. The youth Takeshi leads passive, go-with-the flow existence working as a bartender at SEKAI, the bar where his former girlfriend Michi is also employed. Takeshi encounters a mysterious boy with no name. While living together with this boy, Takeshi undergoes various changes and starts to search his identity in OKINAWA.

Director

Miyamoto Amon
In Japanese theater, particularly in the worlds of musicals, Amon Miyamoto has won enormous popularity and critical acclaim. His stage productions are particularly famous for their high entertainment quality and their large following among young people. While they explore a wide range of subjects, the success of Miyamoto's play as a popular entertainment has gives him an uniquely vital role in somewhat esoteric world of Japanese theater. Thus, for Miyamoto, directing an original movie promises a breakthrough for Japanese cinema, where the majority of films fail to achieve a proper balance between entertainment and art. Through the director's unique sense of entertainment the aim is to create an entertaining film which also conveys a strong message with humor and memorable visuals.

Amon MIYAMOTO (Director, Choreographer, Actor)
Born January 4th, 1958 in Tokyo, Japan.

  • I GOT MERMAN (Musical / Director) 1987
  • MUCH DO ABOUT NOTHING (Play / Director) 1989
  • MARY STUART (Play / Director) 1990
  • UNIDENTIFIED HUMAN REMAINS AND THE TRUE NATURE OF LOVE (Play / Director) 1993
  • CAMILLE (Play / Director) 1995
  • L'ELISIR D'AMORE (Opera / Director) 1988
  • COSI` FAN TUTTE (Opera / Director) 1990
  • ANYTHING GOES (Musical / Director) 1989
  • ON THE 20TH CENTURY (Musical / Director) 1990
  • THE SOUND OF MUSIC (Musical / Director) 1992
  • METAMOSPHOSIS by Steven Berkoff (Play / Leading Actor) 1992
  • HONG KONG RAPSODY (Musical / Director) 1993
  • ECLIPSE OF THE MOON (Kabuki / Director) 1994
  • MAUI (Musical / Director) 1995

Introduction (Short Synopsis)

In the 1960s, Okinawa is under American military occupation. The youth Takeshi leads a passive go-with-the flow existence, working as a bartender at a bar, Sekai, where his ex-girlfriend Michi is also employed. Then Takeshi launches a flare bomb during a military blackout, an expression of frustration with the American military as well as with himself. The same night, Takeshi encounters a mysterious boy with no name. While living together with this boy, Takeshi undergoes various changes. He and Michi also re-evaluate their feelings for each other. Then an event occurs which almost destroys Takeshi's identity to the very roots...

Long Synopsis

The year is 1963, Okinawa is occupied by the U.S. A U.S. military blackout drill has left the entire island enveloped in darkness. The U.S. officers are just congratulating themselves when the dark is suddenly perced by an exploding flare bomb. Its launcher is Takeshi, a young man of half-Taiwanese, half-Okinawan descent. He set off the flare for kicks, but it was also a personal expression of defiance towards the United States. The military police chase Takeshi, along with a mysterious boy who's been watching Takeshi's actions from beginning to end, but the two somehow manage to escape. The following morning at Nami no Ue Street, where Takeshi works as a bartender for bar Sekai, Takeshi's ex-girlfriend, Michi, is making out with a black U.S. military officer, Grant.

Michi has a daughter, Maria, whose father is also an African American. Michi's plan is for Grant to bring them back to the United States with him. When Takeshi returns home, he finds the boy from the previous night waiting at the door. It seems he's got no place to stay. Takeshi can't just kick him out, so the two embark on a strange life together.

Takeshi is also using Sekai as a front for selling of hot goods stolen from the U.S. military. He gets the stuff form his friend Kazuo, who also supplied him with the flare he set off during the blackout. Meanwhile the mysterious boy grows accustomed to life in Takeshi's world and get friendly with Maria and Grant. One day, an injured U.S. private, Joe, goes AWOL and shows up at the house of Sekai's middle-aged hostess, Hisako. Touched by the innocence she sees in his eyes, Hisako takes care of Joe's wounds and ends up agreeing to help him hide in her house.

Around that time, the white U.S. officer Ryan begins to come to come to Sekai regularly, always arriving in a beaten-up Cadillac. He's attracted to Michi, but Michi is afraid, sensing evil in him. Ryan tells Michi that Grant has been arrested for his involvement in the black market trade in U.S. military goods. Michi's dreams is shattered. The only thing for her to do is hold on tight to her daughter Maria.

Then typhoon Dorothy strikes. Sekai is nearly empty when Ryan comes in. He won't leave Michi alone. Held back by Ryan's flunkies, Takeshi is unable to stop the American as he nearly rapes Michi. In the nick of time, the military police come and Michi is rescued. However, the incident forces Takeshi and Michi to recall their own unhappy past. Michi confesses to Takeshi about the time, back when they were in love and when she got a pregnant of Maria by a rapist who is a U.S. soldier. Takeshi tells Michi of his feeling for her, which he'd kept hidden all the time. The two of them are shouting hysterically as if they were having a fight, but having finally opened their hearts to each other, they find that the distance that kept them separated has somehow been crossed. Ryan's Cadillac is still parked outside Sekai. Takeshi grabs Michi, Maria and the boy into the Cadillac, and they drive off into the storm.

Arriving at the beach, the four of them get out of the car and begin to frolic in the midst of the storm looking like four crazy people soaking wet. Takeshi and Michi are acting like they've just been released from prison. When the group finally returns to the bar, Nami No Ue Street has become a river flooding the houses on the either side of the street. The boy tears off a globe-shaped sign of Sekai and jumps from the roof. They all hang on to the sign as it floats down the flooded street. By the time the four returns to Takeshi's house, they're exhausted. Takeshi and Michi make love.

The next day, Takeshi begins to arrange a plan for the four of them to go swimming at the beach and having parties with shamisen music. It seems that he's trying to make them into a family. Takeshi tells Michi for the first time about his life in Taiwan, and about his Japanese father.

One day, the boy hears a strange noise coming from Hisako's house and starts to yell for help, thinking it's the sound of a U.S. soldier robbing the place. Of course, what he's heard is Joe. Hisako's Okinawan neighbors capture Joe and hand him over to the military police, leaving Hisako distraught. Takeshi becomes depressed, too, when Sekai's owner blames him for teaching the young innocent boy to hate U.S. soldiers.

Meanwhile the Vietnam War is heating up. Amidst the violent atmosphere, Ryan, who's becoming more and more unbalanced, kidnaps Maria trying to make Michi come back to him. Takeshi sets off to rescue the child. When Takeshi appears instead of Michi, Ryan furiously tells him, "Nobody needs you. Not Michi. Not Maria. It's obvious, since you never succeed in rescuing either of them". Then he proceeds to rape Maria. Takeshi is helpless and runs away to escape from the reality. The boy gets a new job at the U.S. military morgue. The job gives him a lot of free time, so he plans to use the time to search for Takeshi. Michi is fond of the boy, but she senses that Takeshi never will return. Grant's body appears in the morgue. After his arrest, he'd been sent to Vietnam. "Welcome back", mutters the boy.

Then the boy happens to catch a glimpse of Takeshi on the TV news, giving him the lands he needs to search for his friend. He finds Takeshi in an abandoned house in a small fishing village, where he has descended into complete junkiedom. Takeshi confesses his feeling of weakness for failing to prevent Marie from being raped, and takes about his mother's suicide. He declares that he'll never return.

Later, the boy orders a lot of artillery shells from Kazuo. Takeshi is preparing to leave Okinawa. Ryan returns from Vietnam and visits Nami No Ue Street, acting like his usual crazy self. Then Joe returns as well. Hisako is overjoyed. Joe asks her to marry him. Meanwhile the boy is busy taking apart the shells to construct fireworks.

Joe and Hisako's wedding is held at Sekai. Meanwhile, Takeshi arrives at the harbor to find Michi waiting for him. The two keep checking their emotions as they talk. Then the boy, on the rooftop of Sekai, starts setting off his fireworks. Ryan jokingly takes a pot shot at the boy. The bullets hits the flare bombs and explode. The boy falls off the roof, and the wedding ends in confusion. Hearing the explosion, Takeshi and Michi race over to Sekai. Finding Ryan there, Takeshi attacks him and a major brawl ensues. The fire from the explosion spreads throughout Sekai, and the neon globe falls on Ryan, crushing him beneath. The globe falls on Ryan crushing him beneath, The globe goes rolling off down Nami No Ue Street. Despite his fetal wounds, the boy drags himself back onto the roof and pushes the buttons to launch the remaining flare bombs which light up from every corner of Nami No Ue Street. His eyes on the embracing trio of Takeshi, Michi and Maria, the boy finally collapses, setting off the last of the flare bombs, and blown into the sky along with the enormous rocket. The faces of the people of Nami No Ue Street are lit up by the glow of the flare bombs. Not one of them notices the young man.

From the distance vantage-point of a satellite orbiting the earth, the fireworks glitter beautifully.

Cast

  • Claude MAKI as Takeshi
  • Yuki UCHIDA as Michi
  • Dean STAPLETON as Ryan
  • Naoto HIRATA as Boy
  • Judy MOTOMURA as Maria
  • Toshiya NAGASAWA as Kazuo
  • Ayako KAWAHARA as Lee
  • Teruho MATSUNAGA as Mama
  • Izumi KISHABA as Ryoko
  • Ryoko NIINO as Hisako

Staff

Director: Amon MIYAMOTO
Screenplay: Amon MIYAMOTO
Producer: Shinya KAWAI, Takashige ICHISE
Associate Producer: Makoto ISHIHARA
Cinematographer: Gennkichi HASEGAWA
Lighting Designer: Kiyohiko MORIYA
Production Designer: Yuji TSUZUKI
Recording: Kiyoshi KAKIZAWA
Editing: Hirohide ABE
Special Effects: Hiroshi BUTSUDA
Story: Eiki MATAYOSHI

 

Director's Statement

This production was filmed on Okinawa, an island chain that was once the independent kingdom of Ryukyu, and which now belongs to Japan, despite being the site of an extensive network of controversial US military bases.

The world renowned coral reefs that ring Okinawa are lapped by the warm waters of the northern Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of years ago the independent kingdom of Ryukyu was invaded by Japan and became subject to Japanese rule.

During World War II Okinawa was the only area of Japan proper to experience land battles between the invading Allied Forces under MacArthur and the Imperial Japanese military forces. The savage battles resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people and the legacy of Japan's loss is that almost 20% of Okinawa is given over to US military bases. These bases are the source of much friction, especially since there have been an alarming number of crimes by the soldiers against the local population.

But it is not the rage and the sorrow of the Okinawa people that attracts me to them, rather it is the vitality and the cheerfulness that arisen from their severe experiences in the past that makes them so attractive.

The Okinawan people seem to be always smiling, singing, dancing and talking passionately in most situations. It is as if the primal power, once felt by all mankind but now almost dead in the hearts of city people, has somehow survived and thrived in the breasts of the Okinawans.

I wanted to capture the heart-warming attributes of the Okinawan people, attributes that still manage to shine through in spite of the intensity of pain that they had suffered. That's why I made this film.

This film is set during the "swinging sixties" when Okinawa was the rear echelon for American involvement in the Indo-Chinese wars. It was difficult to separate my own sentimental feelings of those heady times, but it was essential to do so if we were to effectively capture the incidents depicted in the film in an objective manner.

The location for the film is the area where a controversial off-shore US heliport is to built to replace the land bases that are creating so much friction between the US military and the local population.

In pre-production we had recruited a number of US soldiers as extras but their participation was canceled as the Iraqi crisis escalated.

As we move towards the last years of the century it is sad to see that the political situation has barely changed since the 1960's.

I want this film to be seen, not just by the Japanese but also by people from around the world and I hope it will stimulate their interest in the Pacific island of Okinawa.

Amon Miyamoto

Producer's Statement

Recently, I find myself increasingly involved with directors making their feature film debuts. Director Amon Miyamoto was born in 1958, the same year as myself, and is a well-established professional theater director. But since this is his first venture into the world of cinema, I often get asked why I chose to work with him.

As a producer, what I look for most in "someone wanting to direct a film" is whether they clearly know what they want to create. Obviously, there are other fundamental conditions that I seek for as well, such as the ability to direct and convey something through the big screen, and the sensibility of integrating the music and the image. But above all this, I believe that "a director type" person has to be someone who is absolutely certain of what they want to do, and someone who is capable of presenting it to others. And Miyamoto has all of these qualities.

"Okinawa and the stories it tells" was the theme we decided on more than two years ago. Since then, we visited Okinawa and talked to Eiki Matayoshi, the Akutagawa Prize winning scribe of "Buta No Mukui (Retribution of the Pig)" fame, about writing a story for us. With the participation of several film writers we worked on the script. Then, actors Claude Maki (Takeshi) and Yuki Uchida (Michi) came on board. Both were Miyamoto's first choices, who he believed to be perfect for the two leading characters.

BEAT went through what you might call the ordinary process of filmmaking, which in fact is something extremely difficult to do these days. You can't make a film with your spirit only, but a film lacking spirit has got to be uninspiring. I hope this Japanese film "with a face" gets to be seen not only by the people of Japan, but by the people of the world.

Shinya Kawai

(C)PONYCANYON