Dixieland Daimyo

The 36th film of Japanese filmmaker Kihachi Okamoto, based on a story by Japanese black humorist Yasutaka Tsutsui, stages a weird and anachronistic encounter between three ex-slaves, who are all jazz musicians, en route to Africa just after the Civil War. They are shipwrecked in 19th-century Japan during a country-wide conflict between the Tokugawa shogun and rebel forces. Supported by a Daimyo lord who soon becomes a jazz buff, the musicians find themselves at the center of the Meiji restoration. Using a variety of Eastern and Western forms, including Kabuki, No theater, TV, and Spike Jones shenanigans, this broad farce is a genuine anomalysuggestive at times of Frank Tashlin, yet thoroughly Japanese. Punctuated by wry intertitles and featuring Japanese voice-overs during the occasional English dialogue, the movie tends to exult in its own silliness; one female Japanese character travels on a skateboard, and the Dixieland that is performed by the Americans along with Japanese playing traditional instrumentscredited to Tsutsui and Yosuke Yamashitais often infectious. Not a masterpiece, but loads of fun (1986). (JR)

This entry was posted in Featured Texts. Bookmark the permalink.