Film Review – Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda

Ryuichi Sakamoto has many strings to his bow but he’s best known for his work as a composer and musician. As a musician, he was a member of the pivotal Yellow Magic Orchestra and has also released 16 solo albums. His music spans genres, through techno to electronic and classical. His most famous work is undoubtedly Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence from Nagisa Oshima’s film of the same name. He’s also composed scores for Bernardo Bertolucci, Oliver Stone, Pedro Almodóvar and Brian De Palma. He’s one of the most important and influential musicians of his generation.

Now, at the age of 66, Sakamoto is coming to terms with a diagnosis of throat cancer. Stephen Nomura Schible’s new documentary Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda finds him in a contemplative mood as he ponders his mortality and the state of the world. The environment plays a much more important role in his life now, especially since the Fukushima nuclear disaster. This has inevitably spilled over into his compositions and the music he wants to make.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is a thoughtful and intimate portrait of a man coming face to face with his mortality. Forced to take his longest break from music in forty years, Sakamoto has had time to contemplate what is most important to him, both personally and professionally. As an artist who has always pushed boundaries, he’s determined to continue making music but wants to ensure that he leaves a lasting legacy. Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is a quiet and measured tribute to a remarkable musician and an agile mind.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is in cinemas from 29 June.

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