A very delicate attempt that tries to make a sweeping characterization of Hirohito as a man and Japan of the eve of defeat. The delicacy leads to long drawn out scenes with ever detail captured. At times this is interesting as the inner life of Hirohito is captured but often its tedious. Sokurov clearly tries to characterize Hirohito in a grand historical context, but fails relative to his great Russian Ark.
Sokurov's third film in his "men of power" series is a mature and relective take on the final days in power and diplomatic surrender of Emperor Hirohito. The potrayal by Issei Ogata is eerie and powerful and puts one in the bunker and palace in 1945 Japan. A triumph of sparce set design, editing and fine camera work (by Sokurov himself). One of the finest films the year it came out and a landmark pic for Sokurov.
I was lucky enough to see this wonderful and complex portrait of Hirohito at the Philadelphia Film Festival in 2006 after it premiered at the New York Film Festival. The filmmaker moves slowly and with care to construct the world of an emperor just as that world is coming to an end. The meetings between Hirohito and MacArthur are wonderfully subtle and moving. A Great Film
A strange film. Not quite poetic but seemly intentionally paced to bring about a sense of realism, a focus on the characters in frame so much more than the action outside of the frame. I suffered under a strangely cropped print so even some of the subtitles were cut out. I found parts of this film striking but it wasn't quite as good as more of his visually striking films.
The film's highly sympathetic view of Emporor Hirohito -although problematic- in the end makes someone who would otherwise seem impossibly remote into a recognisable human being. I think this is the best of the Sokurov films I have seen, and perhaps a rare Sokurov film as well, in that it is also able to step back from the director's often fussy and distracting editing style and grating use of overlapping dialogue.