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The future will illuminate the present

Musings by The Yomiuri ShimbunThe uproar at a screening of “Tokyo Olympiad,” a documentary film by Kon Ichikawa, is quite well known. After watching the movie, Ichiro Kono, then minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympics, bitterly criticized it, saying: “How could anyone make a documentary film like this? Redo it.”

Of course, that didn’t happen. In fact, we can probably say that the value of the film will increase as time goes by. “This movie is filled with moving scenes featuring Japanese medalists” — some people might have imagined an advertising blurb like that. But the documentary went far beyond their senses. What Ichikawa captured was the changing Japan, which is reflected in the scene showing a construction site.

An iron ball dangling from a crane appears to fill the whole screen and breaks down an old building.

It goes without saying that the destructive power of the iron ball was as a symbol of Japan’s high-speed growth. However, things like that can only be realized when looking back later. Living in the same period as such events can often make it difficult for us to be aware of them.

Less than a year is left until the opening of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. An official documentary film of the Games will of course be made this time as well. It will be directed by Naomi Kawase, who is known for such movies as “MOGARi-The Mourning Forest,” which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.

What will Kawase discover? I hope she’ll let us know what kind of times we’re breathing in.

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