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Japan, 1963 (MIFF 1966, Programme 1)

Director: Kon Ichikawa

lchikawa has filmed the true story of a young Japanese who sailed a 19-foot yacht from Osaka to San Francisco in ninety days of solitary adventure. But unlike the men of the Kon Tiki, he had no scientific or historical theory to vindicate; he simply wanted to assert his individuality and freedom of action with a gesture of rebellion against the conformism of Japanese industrial society.

The scenes on board are well handled and one gets a terrifying sense of the vulnerability of the sailboat as it is tossed about like a paper toy by the hur­ricanes. lchikawa tells the story with much quiet humour. The star, Yujiro Ishihara, excels in such scenes as when he is boiling rice in beer and pre­tending to like it, or when he is hiding from a pass­ing plane so that they won't try to rescue him, and it doesn't take the viewer long to become fully involved with his personality. Ichikawa's humanity, on the other hand, transforms the engaging story of his hero into a hymn to the spirit of man.

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