Kyoto - Heart of Japan
A documentary film by Kon Ichikawa, 1968
37 minutes, digitally re-mastered, colour - Narration in English, Japanese or Italian, extra feature
Richard Gere "A stunningly beautiful poem to Kyoto. An elegant and unforgettable gift from the great Kon Ichikawa."
New York Times "precise serenity"
Donald Keene, Tokyo 2015
"Kon Ichikawa's Kyōto would have astonished me even if I saw it while in Kyōto. Although I had lived there and took pride in my knowledge of the city, I utterly lacked Ichikawa’s eyes. "
"Kon Ichikawa's Kyōto would have astonished me even if I saw it while in Kyōto. Although I had lived there and took pride in my knowledge of the city, I utterly lacked Ichikawa’s eyes. I had many times visited the rock and sand garden of the Ryōanji and had been captivated by the placement of the rocks, but it was on seeing the film that I first became aware that each rock has a different character, revealed by Ichikawa's magnifying camera.
Again, I had been moved by the architecture and gardens of many temples, but I had never seen priests in meditation or a man undergoing days of pain as part of his resolution to be accepted as a member of the temple. Nor had I been startled by the sudden sound of clappers shattering an absolute silence.
The garden of rocks and sand and the priests in black robes suggest Kyōto is monochrome, but the screen suddenly shifts to the brilliant green of the Moss Garden, the vermillion of autumn leaves, the dazzling colors of the Gion Festival. At the end, one is sure to regret leaving Kyōto, but the music by Toru Takemitsu, enhancing every sequence, leaves a lasting fragrance."
Peter Cowie, Film Historian
"The great Kon Ichikawa captures the essence of Kyoto -- its temples, its gardens, its historic villas -- in this exquisitely edited documentary, enhanced by the haunting music of Toru Takemitsu. "
"The great Kon Ichikawa captures the essence of Kyoto through a series of haunting, evocative images. He approaches the ancient Heian capital through some of its most emblematic sites: the stone garden of Ryoanji Temple, the geishas of the Gion district with their superb kimonos and clacking clogs, and the sumptuous Katsura Imperial Villa. The film is marked by Ichikawas familiar sense of sly wit, as when a Buddhist monk seeking alms is almost knocked over by a driver in a busy street, and by his peerless flair for dramatic effect, such as the black-and-white shots of a monk being chastised by his superior in true Zen fashion. More than a mere documentary, this is a contemplative ode to Kyoto, enhanced by the mysterious music of the great Toru Takemitsu."
Eric Cotenas, dvdbeaver.com "The descriptive narration is omnipresent but viewers may be more interested in how the film embodies what Japanese culture expert Donald Richie described as "the Ichikawa look" owing less to traditional art than graphic design in its asymmetrical yet precise framing, as the images unfold beneath the dissonant scoring of esteemed composer Toru Takemitsu"
On Director Kon Ichikawa
Donald Richie in The Several Sides of Kon Ichikawa "… intense visualization is what has come to be known in the industry as "the Ichikawa look." It owes much less to traditional art than it does to modern graphic design. The angular pattern is usually bold, the balance is almost always asymmetrical, the framing precise, and yet the composition rarely calls attention to itself."
Pauline Kael, The New Yorker "Ichikawa…is a deadpan sophisticate, with a film technique so masterly that he pulls you into the worlds he creates."
Master film director, Kon Ichikawa (1915~2008), along with many of Japan's most important artists presents the treasures of one of the world's most beautiful cities, Kyoto, Japan
Filmed at the Ryoanji Temple Stone Garden, the Meditation Hall of Tenryuji Temple, a Geisha residence, the Moss Garden of Saihoji Temple, the Katsura Imperial Villa and the Gion Festival.
37 minutes, colour, 1968 (digitally remastered)
This DVD is Region Free and playable on DVD players everywhere
Narration in English, Japanese or Italian
A 17 minute film on the opening night screenings in Tokyo and Kyoto
Script by Shuntaro Tanikawa
Cinematography by Naoyuki Sumitani
Music by Toru Takemitsu
Supervision by Kenzo Tange, Yusaku Kamekura, Tadashi Ishikawa
Produced by Seiichiro Eida
Original 35mm Film Production by Olivetti Arte, 1968
Produced with the cooperation of the City of Kyoto
Kyoto was digitally re-mastered by the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia Archivio Nazionale del Cinema Impresa, Italy, to 2.3K video from a print provided by National Film Center, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo