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Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda

Ryuichi Sakamoto was part of the Yellow Magic Orchestra in the 70s and later became a Japanese pop superstar, an experimental musician, and a film composer (receiving an Oscar for THE LAST EMPEROR). He explains the motifs of his music with ...


A coda in music theory is the separate last part of a piece. It represents a later piece by Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto here whom Stephen Nomura Schible gets closer to in RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA. Sakamoto became known as part of the “Yellow Magic Orchestra“ in the 70s, the Japanese answer to “Kraftwerk.“ Since the 80s he has dedicated himself to flm music and created striking scores for THE LAST EMPEROR or THE REVENANT for example.

Schible forgoes a strict linear narrative of the life and work of Sakamoto and saves the viewers from a typical story of a prodigy and his first steps into the art world. The composer himself talks about the life-changing events and recurring themes in his work in a calm and reflective way. With humilty and unpretentious charm he manages to transmit the connection and confrontation between nature and culture, finiteness and eternity, and melancholy and humor as a principle theme of his music. Moreover, Sakamoto appears as a political activist and Schible follows him on his trips to the destroyed areas of Fukushima and visiting climate protectors in the Arctic. Sakamoto‘s main interest, however, is searching for new sounds, ambient sound with which he can enrich his minimalist compositions. RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA doesn‘t always do justice to this sonic world. In order to align wth Sakamoto‘s thnking, the film would have had to dive deeper into Sakamoto‘s acoustic world instead of lingering on the visual surface. But Schible succeeds in creating images of an impressive and sensitive artist whose work is not over.

Yorick Berta

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Japan/USA 2017, 100 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Stephen Nomura Schible
Author: Stephen Nomura Schible
Distributor: Edition Salzgeber
FSK: 6
Release: 12.07.2018




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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