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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Issey Steals It
Whilst I understand the disappointment of other reviewers on this page, I feel they are doing the film an injustice. It's true that 'Downfall' was a magnificent film which deserves six stars on the Amazon system - but it was at the end of the day, a drama.

What the director has tried to do here is present a slice of 'reality' television - hence, the slow...
Published on 24 July 2007 by AG Stephenson

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3.0 out of 5 stars The sun
Bit slow and to be honest a wee bit boring. Not as good as Downfall but there are few movies that cover this period of history.
Published 1 month ago by Interested party


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Issey Steals It, 24 July 2007
By 
AG Stephenson "andrewjoychris" (Newhaven England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sun [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Whilst I understand the disappointment of other reviewers on this page, I feel they are doing the film an injustice. It's true that 'Downfall' was a magnificent film which deserves six stars on the Amazon system - but it was at the end of the day, a drama.

What the director has tried to do here is present a slice of 'reality' television - hence, the slow unravelling of events, the lack of a narrative structure (sorry guys, but in real life, the plot lines don't converge neatly after ninety minutes), the inconsistent motivations and the naturalistic flawed characters - especially Hirohito and McArthur.

What does stand out is Issey Miyako's extraordinary portrayal of the slightly autistic emperor, trapped in a life of ritual and expectation, trapped in a Japan that is a fantasy of its own creation, trapped between the past and the future. He steals the show.

Having worked with Japanese people, I'm also conscious of how breathtakingly avant garde this portrayal may still seem to them - a people for whom, like the British, the concept of royalty as being 'different' from normal people may still be irrationally held.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, something far more interesting., 3 April 2011
This review is from: The Sun [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
I was sorry to see the poor reviews for this film so I wanted to offer a more positive response as it would be a shame if people were turned away from The Sun because of Amazon reviews.

Of course a film like this is not for everyone, but really the only thing that would work against someone's appreciation and enjoyment of it is the unfortunate fact we are so conditioned by the sorts of films we see in greater majority that we can't spot the quality of these daring curiosities so easily.

In modern war films we are subjected to many hundreds of shots, fast editing, relentless explosions, battles, sentimental and derivative film music, digital effects etc. The film director's usual claim that it is merely an honest portrayal of war which should be allowed to speak for itself is, I feel, often the way they justify the relentless violence to themselves - violence which they know full well gets bums on seats. The Korean War movie Brotherhood has got ecstatic reviews on here, but aside from the impressive technical achievements (which are ten-a-penny in movies these days) it is a fairly weak film; very proud and sentimental, with no pacing or real drama anywhere in sight.

The Sun was unfortunately compared to the movie Downfall simply to help market it, but that does it no favours if you think that's what you're getting. It is a completely different sort of film, and one which even makes the superb Downfall look like a standard Westernised affair by comparison. Downfall after all had it's healthy dollop of action sequences to accompany the human drama. A film like The Sun is more risky, and interesting and rewarding in a different way. I was relieved that I am still able to enjoy slower paced, subtler films as I was worried that I had been effected by the bitesize, entertainment-on-demand age we live in to the extent I wouldn't be able to sit through a scene that doesn't last longer than a youtube clip.

In fact, I would emphasise the importance of watching a film like this in an environment that gets the best out of it. There is a lot of thought and detail under the surface level simplicity, so if you watch this on your 12-inch laptop, reclining uncomfortably on your bed in the morning you may indeed find the film tedious. But if you create a cinema-like, quiet atmosphere you will really notice the things that give this film its depth, like the background sounds and the lighting for instance. Some shots are exquisitely beautiful - they seem to be set-up to look like paintings - and I'm amazed one reviewer felt it was badly filmed.

Any seemingly negative adjectives I could use to describe this film could equally be seen as positives: slow, simple, uneventful. Why not? A good film needn't be fast, complicated and crammed with action.

It is like a play shot to film, as its main strengths come from dialogues and behaviours between characters in a simple setting. It offers a very realistic and fascinating, if you're not Japanese I suppose, look into their social customs. The scene when the Emperor reunites with his wife is magic. I was watching it with my Japanese friend who was laughing during this scene as she found it so typical of Japanese reserve, even in an emotional moment like that.

But sure, if you bought this thinking you might be getting a Japanese Saving Private Ryan or even Downfall 2, you probably will not like this film!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric, humanistic portrayal of a powerful leader in wartime, 18 May 2011
This review is from: The Sun [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Similar to Oliver Hischbiegel's Downfall, released a year earlier, The Sun follows Emperor Hirohito during the final days of World War II. While American soldiers invade the land after dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Emperor remains holed up in the bunker of his palace, existing in a kind of daze. He wanders the hallways, followed by his servants who hang on his every word and action, awaiting his instructions. He quietly ponders the situation and attempts to negotiate a peace treaty with his advisors, wondering what effect it will have on his legacy. General Douglas MacArthur calls for him to dine with him, and the two almost share a strange bond while discussing politics, determining the Emperor's fate and smoking cigars.

Director Aleksandr Sokurov, who was responsible for the hypnotic Russian Ark and criminally under-seen Alexandra, adopts a similar style to that of the former. The digital image glides along the steel corridors of the bunker, following Hirohito's every move. The darkness and the grain of the image allowing a more grounded feel to the proceedings. This way, it feels less like a period piece based on real events, and places you more in the time. It's a similar approach to that taken by Michael Mann in the over-rated Public Enemies. Though Michael Mann's almost emotionless biography of John Dillinger used it in a desperate attempt to look cool and edgy (something that Mann seems to do with every new film he does - surprising given the effortless cool of the likes of Heat and Manhunter - anyway...), here Sokurov adopts the style to create a very real atmosphere.

The almost constant soundtrack, too, adds to the atmosphere of the piece. As the Emperor slowly paces the corridors, quietly discusses matter with his board and quietly reflects on his actions, the music and camera-work gave me the overall impression of doom. Not that the film is heading that way, I felt that it more represented the internal struggle of the Emperor, where his fate is seemingly out of his hands, and his country could be facing ruin. Two of the largest cities in the country have been obliterated by the U.S., who are now crossing their borders and invading. Being the Emperor, he is of the belief that he is a God. Is this the legacy of a God? What will his people remember him for?

I can't end the review without mentioning the computer generated sequence that breaks up the film. Dazed and delirious after being taken ill, the Emperor sits open mouthed at the edge of his bed, imagining scores of giant flying fish soaring through the air. The country below them lies in smoky ruin, and the fish begin to drop more bombs, the sounds of the fish's 'engines' groaning terribly. The fish by the way, just to put it into context, represent Hirohito's love for marine biology, which he persists in researching even as the Americans invade. It's a brave, interesting move in the film. It initially jarred with the quiet, controlled drama that unfolds before, but it becomes an interesting and unnerving experimental set-piece.

A cold, tightly-directed biography that cares less about the politics of the time, and more with the humanistic aspect of a powerful ruler in a troubled time, with a mesmerising lead performance by Issei Ogata.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MIRACULOUS, 26 Sep 2012
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This review is from: The Sun [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Wow! I thought Emperor Hirohito had died long ago - but it seems not before shooting this fantastic film. At least that's what it seems like.
This was the third part of a trilogy of films about famous leaders, the first two being Lenin and Hitler. I suppose the supreme accolade must go to the director, Alexander Sokurov, for the imaginative and wholly convincing recreation of the moment of surrender by Hirohito to General MacArthur in 1945, although the extraordinary performance of Issey Ogata as Hirohito is just a hairsbreadth away.
I have read a fair amount over the years about WW II, the defeat of Japan, etc., and although this is obviously a recreation of the events as imagined by Sokurov, it seems hard to believe that we are not witnessing the real thing.
I saw the previous Sokurov film in this trilogy, "Moloch", depicting Hitler, in an altogether surreal atmosphere, which for me was rather over stylized and lacked both content and gravitas. The Sun, however is of a different order altogether. Hirohito did in fact live very much in a world of his own, quite divorced from the teaming and wholly subordinate masses over which he ruled. This is exquisitely captured in the deferential and submissive way that his personal servants behave. Everyone is very respectful of everyone else, yet there is no doubt about the almost celestial reverence with which the emperor is treated. I didn't know that Hirohito himself suffered from the kind of vocal indecision or preparation before speaking that Ogata depicts, but I assume he did, since nobody could invent such an impediment in the way that Ogata performs it. Quite masterful!
I'm not quite sure about the role of MacArthur. I can't quite say why, but somehow I didn't feel I was watching MacArthur. Maybe the physiognomy was wrong, or perhaps the famous pomposity that so characterized MacArthur was missing. Anyhow, he wasn't a patch on Hirohito, although a performance such as Ogata's would leave just about anyone in the shade.
This is a really great work of art, perfectly captured in a washed out, gloomy colour that looks so authentic that it's difficult to believe it isn't the real thing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The sun, 27 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Sun [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Bit slow and to be honest a wee bit boring. Not as good as Downfall but there are few movies that cover this period of history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 'The Sun' shines brightly, 4 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Sun [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
The performance of Issey Ogata is outstanding in this portrayal of Hirohito at the end of the war. Unfortunately Robert Dawson is somewhat poor as Douglas McArthur on whom Gregory Peck did a far more convincing job. The Japanese retainers are contrasted with the easy-going GIs for whom Hirohito embodies the qualities of Charlie Chaplin rather than those of a divinity. Hirohito's affection for Hollywood stars, illustrated in his photo-album, is rather touching and reflects that celebrity is universal. To sustain a leading role under such stressful circumstances requires the qualities of a top actor, and Ogata certainly delivers the goods.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "God Save the Queen", 10 Jun 2013
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sun [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
A very slow ponderous film but within its depiction is as incendiary as "God Save the Queen" blasting out to the mind numbed as Elizabeth rolls on by in her carriage. For this shows that the Japanese Emperor, the living God - he was not only human but had numerous other interesting traits.

Firstly being made into a Living God, was a type of prison sentence where every action was coded along with the incessant daily routine. Echoing Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast for abstract ritual the man was perpetually trapped. Within his entrapment he stuttered along to an autistic all pervading silence, socially awkward within his relationships to the point of utter disconnection.

The film is not an action packed thriller, quite the opposite, to the point of long drawn out silences, to capture the sheer loneliness of the man. Set towards the end of the war as he faces the challenge of having to decided whether to let the people know he was no longer a deity, he gently shed the facade.

The effect on the Japanese people was chasmic, as big as the two atom bombs dropped on them or Commander Perry sailing into the harbour. As a people the Japanese pride(d) themselves on their shutting off, of the world, an attempt to push it away so they could live within a bubble. Creating a Living God allowed them to feel special and unique in the world. The surrender of the Emperor to the American style of life, the abdication of his role, was a huge psychological blow for those who lived within a certain fantasy world. Echoing the same impact the British Royal Family had upon their subjects, they were elevated to a higher plane, due to careful newspaper marketing and a suspension of disbelief amongst the population.

The film details the agony within the man as he seeks normal connections, wanting to discover something within marine wildlife, try and and reach out to his wife, even make friends with MacArthur. The whole thing becomes a window into how a nation can project its madness.

The acting and lighting along with the long shots capture the whole ambiance of an era. It is a long slow drawn out take, filled with silences and pensive twitches. Marketed as a version of Downfall, this is not. It is more appropriate to view it as an exercise in filmic mindfulness, a zen take on being a viewer than the more frantic feelings of despair that permeated the end of the war.

Defeat for the Emperor meant freedom.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MISSING MUCH AND TELLING LITTLE, 7 Nov 2009
By 
Mr. Gary J. Smith (South West, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sun [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Well I have to agree with some of the other reviewers on this page in that this film is no downfall. It tells the story, or more the state of events, of the surrender by emperor hirohito to the US on VJ day (to simplify matters).

But there is little in the way of neat plotting and it is mostly a strange glance into the mind of hirohito himself. To say the lead actor carries the film is no understatement because there is little in the way of concrete plotting that you'd expect from most films, few locations and few supporting actors.

The film also assumes you know the history already so for a country that deals almost exclusively in history lessons about the western front and germany, this can leave you a little confused so perhaps this is more suitable for those who know the japanese story in the war or if you want to watch the film do some research of the basics first.

It also paints the emperor as a sympathetic character, like downfall, but whereas Hitler is also in that film shown to be the raging maniac we're all familiar with, there is little mention of the atrocities attributed to Hirohito and his regime, some of which are truly horrible and of which he was never mad accountable for. Its only mentioned in passing in relation to the attack on pearl harbour, not the mal-treatment of allied soldiers etc

So its incomplete but rather spellbinding. It's held by the lead actors role and little else and is very difficult to watch unless you perservere. There is some reward to those who do but its regrettably no downfall
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20 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From Hiroshima to Hershey Bars, 19 April 2006
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sun [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
"The Sun" is like the Japanese equivalent of the excellent German film, "Downfall", set as it is in the period immediately following the invasion of Japan by the Americans in 1945. The film follows the activities of the Emperor Hiro Hito ,still treated as a divinity by his subjects, during this time. "The Sun" is very slow paced and for the first hour , hardly anything happens , as an edgy and humbled Emperor contemplates life under American occupation and how to handle a charm offensive by General McArthur. The pace barely picks up during the second half of the film as the Emperor and his staff succumb to the will of the Americans , as symbolised by their Hershey Bar consumption and Hiro Hito's partaking of a fine cigar with McArthur. There is some fine acting in "The Sun", especially by Issey Ogata, as the Emperor. I would imagine that this film would appeal mostly to those with a keen interest in history and it lacks the intensity and emotion of "Downfall" which made that film so appealing to a wider audience. "The Sun" is an interesting film in parts , but overall it is somewhat dull.
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3 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a dissapointment, 22 Sep 2006
By 
D. A. Welsby (united kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sun [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
this film is somewhat of a dissapointment to say the least, it has little to no storeyline, shot poorly, and the lighting style of the film makes it sometimes difficult to see , i would of given this film a zero stars mark if it had not been for the magnificant performance of the leading actor who plays the emperor, his performance made this film watchable (just)
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The Sun [2004] [DVD]
The Sun [2004] [DVD] by Alexander Sokurov (DVD - 2006)
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