OPUS | Ryuichi Sakamoto | Directed by Neo Sora | Official Teaser (2023)
In “Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus”, a minimalist monochrome concert film, director Neo Sora captures his father’s final performance. A parting gift for audiences around the world, the film stitches together an evocative medley of career defining tracks, forming an intimate sonic reflection of Sakamoto’s life and work.
Unlike other recorded concerts, which usually emphasize the spectacle of live performance, Sora and cinematographer Bill Kirstein create shots that are stripped of excess. Filmed in the NHK 509 studio , Sakamoto is perched behind a Yamaha grand piano, surrounded by towering microphone stands and lighting fixtures. Resembling a serene bamboo forest, Sakamoto — calm and composed — flicks through his sheet music and begins to play.
In the absence of flashy theatrics, viewers are totally engrossed in the subject and his performance. Whether they are long-time fans or newcomers to Sakamoto’s work, the film’s setlist embodies the totality of Sakamoto’s diverse career. The timeless quality of songs like “Amore”, “The Sheltering Sky” and “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” are displayed in their rawest forms — packed with visceral emotions and memories.
For Sakamoto, every note played on the piano seems like a cathartic release. He plays the piano with his whole body, siphoning every ounce of his being into every melody. Totally absorbed in the act of performing, his many facial expressions are a window into his soul — cycling between intense physical agony and blissful recollection. Music is beyond a discipline or vocation for Sakamoto. It is the lens in which he uses to process the world around him and project his own indescribable ideas.
Despite his ongoing battle with cancer, Sakamoto plays like he is in his prime — letting his fingertips effortlessly dance across the piano keys. His total love and commitment for his art is palpable. Even as he faced his own mortality, he poured every ounce of his energy into his songs, imbuing every note with visceral emotion.
It is easy to feel like the persistent spirit of innovation that Sakamoto brought to music and cinema has passed along with him. In nearly half a century of working as an artist, Sakamoto never ceased displaying his talent and passion for his craft. Yet, by bestowing upon us this final recorded performance along with the rest of his musical catalog, he also leaves us with a mission to strive for the same ideals of artistic commitment and creative experimentation.
via yokogao magazine