Digging into anything and everything that makes the CNMI tick beyond politics...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Full house for ‘Oba: The Last Samurai’

CNMI leaders, businesspersons, local and Japanese media and other members of the community  filled the 200 seats reserved for the premier of the Japanese film “Oba: The Last Samurai” at the Hollywood Theater on Monday evening.
Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan chats with Saipan Mayor Donald G. Flores prior to the screening of “Oba: The Last Samurai” at the Hollywood Theater on Monday evening. Photo by Raquel C. BagnolMembers of the audience interviewed by this reporter said they were “awed” and “touched” by the film.
The movie  ran for 80 minutes and was filmed mostly in Rayong, Thailand. It included footage from Saipan as it depicted how Captain Oba, played by Yutaka Takenouchi, and his men fought the U.S. forces before finally surrendering in Dec. 1945.
Some of the viewers told the Variety that even though they have lived on island for years, it was the first time they learned about Oba’s story.
Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said he liked the movie.
“There is so much humanity despite the war, and I felt the respect between the captains of both the U.S. forces and the Japanese soldiers for each other,” he added.
IT&E marketing associate Brad Ruszala said the film can help many people rediscover the past.
“It is a powerfully amazing movie, one that evokes emotional reference to the history of the place,” he added.
U.S. Department of the Interior field representative Jeff Schorr said he thoroughly enjoyed the movie.
“I thought it was presented fairly. It was faithful to  history, from my understanding of it,  without ‘Hollywood-type’ exaggeration.  The Japanese production was excellent, the acting seemed appropriate to the situation,” Schorr said.
Before watching the movie, he said he re-read his copy of Don Jones’ book “Oba: The Last Samurai,” from which the film was based.
“I trust it will give both local, Japanese and American audiences an insight into the history of the Battle of Saipan in 1944-45,” Schorr added.
DFS Saipan Ltd. assistant general manager for operations Ben Babauta said the movie was “very exciting,”
Rotary Club president Glen Perez said the film was “very excellent.”
He added, “It is exciting to note how peace transpired between the U.S. and the Japanese forces after the war. The movie depicted the struggles of Captain Oba and his men who saved the lives of many people and ended up being heroes — something which a lot of us don’t know about.”
U.S. District Court chief deputy clerk William “Bill” Bezzant said he could not help but compare “Oba: The Last Samurai” to the 2002 movie “Windtalkers,” which starred Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater, and was also about the Battle of Saipan.
He said “Windtalkers” was filmed mostly in a desert in California and did not incorporate actual scenes from Saipan.
“ ‘Oba: The Last Samurai’ is very authentic. A viewer who lives here will find it hard to distinguish the interchanging locations between Saipan and Thailand because it is as though the whole movie was filmed here,” Bezzant said.
He said the movie was also very accurate.
Lawyer Teresa Kim-Tenorio said she “assumed it would just be another typical war movie. However, within the first few minutes, I was completely hooked. I loved it. The plot was unique, in that it focused on loyalty and peace, as opposed to hate and bloodshed. I believe it touched me more knowing it happened here.”
Aya Matsumoto of  Pacific Eagle Enterprise  Inc. said the movie portrayed both sides of the war.
“In some movies only one side is portrayed but in ‘Oba,’ you can see how the two opposing forces joined in peace afterward,” Matsumoto said.
Dignitaries who attended the VIP screening at 5 p.m. on Monday included Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, Saipan Mayor Donald G. Flores and Tinian Mayor Ramon M. Dela Cruz.
The cast, which included lead actor Yutaka Takenouchi, supporting actor Takayuki Yamada and film director Hideyiki Hirayama, also attended the premiere.
The movie will be shown in theaters all over Japan on Feb. 11. (published HERE)

No comments: