14 March 2009 | Ethan_Ford
An epic odyssey
The theme of stubborn individualism has always run through Ichikawa's work and it was not surprising that he wished to film this true story of an ordinary twenty-three year old who crossed the Pacific in a small yacht,a feat which no Japanese had ever accomplished.The hero is played by Yujiro Ishihara,a hugely popular star in youth movies who is utterly convincing in the role.It is the accumulation of small details which make the film so compellingly realistic:the daunting planning and purchase of items from three sets of screwdrivers to a meticulously controlled diet of canned foods,beer and water. He is subjected to all the ordeals which lone sailors speak of,namely,above all,the loneliness of each day,the sleep deprivation,the unforeseen accidents,and above all the vagaries of the weather,his small vessel unceasingly lashed by unforgiving storms,even the presence of a shark which almost catches him off guard having a swim. Throughout the film we see flashbacks to his rather humdrum existence working for his father and then for a travel agency,his bickering relationship with his father,his rejection of his mother's endless pleas for him to stay at home.It seems as if the typically conformist pressures exerted by the Japanese family have in part driven him to find relief in the open seas. And when the end of the voyage comes,it is one of the most perfect and beautifully filmed climaxes in modern film history.