Arts & Entertainment, Features

Boston University’s Language of the Month Film Discussion celebrate Japanese culture with presentation on film ‘Kikujiro’

An online discussion on the Japanese movie “Kikujiro” was held Nov. 30 to celebrate the diverse body of language at Boston University. The Language of the Month Film Discussion event was organized by the Educational Resource Center in partnership with Boston University Libraries.

Language of the Month Japanese film "Kikujiro"
A slide from the Language of the Month’s online discussion of Japanese film “Kikujiro” on Nov. 30. The discussion moderator, Hiromi Miyagi-Lusthaus, a senior lecturer in Japanese at Boston University, began the event with a presentation before shifting into the discussion, which centered around the character Kikujiro. SHANNON DAMIANO/DFP STAFF

“Kikujiro” debuted in 1999 and follows the story of a young boy and his unlikely guardian, Kikujiro, wandering Japan in search of the boy’s mother.

It was directed by Takeshi Kitano, a Japanese stand-up comedian in the late 1970s who later became famous for his “very violent movies,” according to the presentation’s discussion moderator and senior lecturer in Japanese in the Department of World Languages and Literatures, Hiromi Miyagi-Lusthaus.

However, the film “was really not well received [by] Western critics,” Miyagi-Lusthaus said, “because this film was not like his other films.”

According to Miyagi-Lusthaus, Kitano wanted to create a film inspired by his father, something with lots of “melancholy and sentiment.”

“The father is an alcoholic with a habit of vagrancy,” she said.

Attendees were invited to share their thoughts following the presentation. Discussions were had about the character Kikujiro and his personal journey. Miyagi-Lusthaus described him as a
“a terribly unreliable husband” and as “a gambler.”

“That quest is really a double entendre, they’re trying to find the kid’s mother but they’re also trying to find Kikujiro’s mother,” she said.

Zhiyang Shu, a freshman in the College of Fine Arts, said that the film had “unique” cinematography in an interview.

“They will linger on one shot for way too long, even after the main action or the person in the shot is already gone,” he said.

Shu also noted how the movie’s soundtrack added value to the overall plot.

“I feel like it was pretty fun to get into to hear what other people thought about the film,” Shu said. “I usually don’t watch too many movies or do film discussions, but it was definitely a unique experience.”

November’s film discussion is just one of the many that will be held by the Education Resource Center, which started the Language of the Month initiative last year.

On Dec. 10, a discussion on the film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” will be held to celebrate English as the Language of the Month.

“We really need to engage with the world, I think we have a real international community here at BU,” said Barbara Maratos, a literature and languages librarian for BU Libraries who helps organize the discussions. “We need to learn about others, not just by understanding our local community, but the broader world.”

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