In 1962, 23 year old Horie Kenichi embarked upon a lone sailing expedition across the Pacific. Having not applied for the correct documentation, his adventure met with disapproval in Japan. But in America, despite having no passport, he was rewarded with a 30 day Freedom of the City of San Francisco in recognition of his exploit. Kon Ichikawa redresses some of the criticism of Horie by casting popular actor Yujiro lshihara in the role, ensuring a sympathetic home audience. “It’s a very fine drama whose historical importance comes from what you can read between the cultural lines…” Slarek, Cineoutsider. (Cert PG)
Dir: Kon Ichikawa 104 mins Japan 1963
Alex Jacoby, a specialist in Japanese cinema, returns to introduce this film.
Alone Across the Pacific
Japan 1963 104mins Cert PG
Tonight’s film is introduced and discussed by Japanese cinema expert Alex Jacoby.
Based on the true story of Horie Kenichi who in 1962 sailed his tiny yacht from Osaka to San Francisco, breaking Japanese law at the time (which forbade small vessels from leaving Japan), director Kon Ichikawa condenses Horie’s three month journey into ca. 100 minutes and uses voice-over and flashback to show why he wanted to leave, how his parents and sister reacted and also to show the meticulous (and clandestine) preparations that went into undertaking such a voyage. Depicting the many lows and highs of the journey, Ichikawa doesn’t so much portray the reality of crossing such a vast expanse of ocean as to explore what it is to be human.
The film is stunningly photographed (although some long shots are a little grainy) and the interior shots capture well the claustrophobia of living inside a nineteen foot yacht as well as the extraordinary difficulties Horie went through in the early stages of his voyage. The only soundtrack is the original Japanese mono recording, which has some hiss throughout but is generally clear. The subtitles are easy to read and free of spelling and grammatical errors.
Ichikawa shows the mundane, the terrifying and the everyday amusements of such an undertaking, interspersing the voyage with flashbacks to an oppressive Japan where a free spirit like Horie simply does not fit in.
Acknowledgements: David Beckett, myreviewer.com
“[In] letting the viewer make the final call … the film becomes phantasmagorically beautiful and also terrifyingly still and alone. It’s a genuine tour de force for Ichikawa and cinematographer
Yoshihiro Yamasaki; [perhaps] one of the greatest wide-screen films ever made” Glenn Kenny, The Auteurs
Horie Kenichi – Yujiro Ishihara
Horie’s father – Masayuki Mori
Horie’s mother – Kinuyo Tanaka
Horie’s sister – Ruriko Asaoka
Horie’s friend – Hajime Hana
Director – Kon Ichikawa
Producers – Akira Nakai, Isao Zeniya
Screenplay – Natto Wada
Cinematography – Yoshihiro Yamasaki
Original Music – Yasushi Akutagawa, Tore Takemitsu
“Fascinating film, great speaker”
“Remarkably undated film, beautifully made”
“Remarkable and unusual film – skilfully made”
“A good film – most unusual. Excellent sub-titles.”
“This was a fine way mark Ichikawa’s centenary, with Alex Jacoby’s interesting talk [slanted towards it being] a well made adventure biopic. The film had a solid balance between the journey itself and the progression of Horie’s drive to achieve his goal. With majestic music, it was an entertaining experience about an extra-ordinary feat of exploration.”
“Excellent cinematography but generally a bit slow. Good ending, though.”
“A difficult subject given professional treatment”
“Considering a lot of the tricky bits were filmed in the studio, Ichikawa handled them fairly well. Horie seemed well prepared for the trip but could have done with more backup at the time of Chichester, Bligh and Francis.”
“Quaint – an unreal film about a real event”
“He’ll have great story to tell his grandchildren. Such adventurous tests of endurance are best attempted when one is young!”
“Only 500ml of water per day – that’s not much!”