In Hitosuji, a fictitious village of the sort to be found everywhere in rural Japan, everyday life goes on as it always has, around a man who does nothing but sleep. There are mountains, forests, rivers and fields: the seasons come and go, but life and death, humankind and nature, are portrayed in unity rather than in their conventional opposition. Underlying The Sleeping Man are the traditional Japanese attitudes to nature, to life and to death. The past century has brought the rapid modernization of the country, particularly in the years that followed World War II. It would seem that the Japanese have, alongside the Western technology, adopted Western values at the expense of traditional Japanese ones. Yet increasingly it becomes clear that the price paid for economic progress has been high, with the Japanese now finding themselves bereft of that inner life which might endow their existence with a sense of meaning. In this film, Oguri tries to extract the richness of the “life” that Japan has lost. After a long time THE SLEEPING MAN is a masterpiece of the Japanese film. It is rich of content, beautiful of image. This is a highly praiseworthy film that cannot fail to leave a strong spiritual impression on the viewer. —unet
Kohei Oguri was born in Gunma prefecture, northern Japan, in 1945, and worked as a freelance assistant director to Kirio Urayama and Masahiro Shibata. He made his directing debut in 1981 with “Doro no Kawa”, which was voted number one in KINEMA JUNPO’s best ten list, as well as receiving the Blue Ribbon Prize and the Mainichi Competition for Best Director. The film was also nominated for the Moscow Film Festival Silver Prize and the American Academy Prize (Foreign Films Section).
In 1984 came “Kayako no Tame-ni” (For Kayako) written by Lee Hwe-Song, which won the George Sadule Prize, a first for a Japanese director. In 1990, “Shi no Toge” won both the Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize of the Jury and the FIPRESCI. All three of these films were set in the 1950s, and dealt with the themes of post war life and “the Japanese and I”.
In 1996 “Nemuru Otoko” became the first film to be both written and directed by Oguri, and it drew much attention from being produced and set in… read more
From a composite of beautiful visuals to a contemplative story telling, Sleeping Man is magical.
This film stays with you for such a long time. Great observations from the eyes of a brilliant poet.