Monday, 8 February 2010

Long Play: Goemon

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image presents an extended season of visionary director Kazuaki Kiriya's newest period epic Goemon (2009).

The film draws on the 16th century Japanese folk legend of Goemon Ishikawa, a ninja bandit hero who - similar to Robin Hood - stole valuables from the rich and gave them to the poor. Over time he has become a much loved figure in Japan, providing inspiration for Kabuki plays and even a dedicated video game series. Kiriya takes the seeds of the legend and builds around them an epic tale of heroism and sacrifice.

ACMI Head of Film Programs Richard Sowada knew as soon as he had seen Goemon that he had to bring it to ACMI: "I first saw Goemon on the monster big screen at Cannes and literally walked out of the cinema shouting 'Yeah! Finally! What an absolute blast!' I actually felt like I'd grown some muscles in places I didn't know I had. It's something so fresh and new - a great Hollywood, Japanese, comic book and fantasy hybrid and of such thundering scale that I couldn't stop thinking 'I must have it'. And here it is."

Goemon is set in the year 1582, where for the first time in hundreds of years, Japan has been united under a single leader, though the divide between rich and poor is still vast and there is great unrest among the people.

Enter Ninja-bandit hero Goemon (portrayed by Yosuke Eguchi) with his super abilities to bring hope and justice to the underprivileged. During another attempt to provide the poor with the riches they deserve he inadvertently steals a mysterious box that government officials are willing to kill to get their hands on. Goemon soon finds himself pursued by several highly skilled ninja assassins.

Goemon is written, choreographed and directed by Japanese filmmaker Kazuaki Kiriya. It's the second film from the former music video director and fashion photographer who made his feature filmmaking debut with the popular fantasy war epic Casshern (2004), which became an instant cult classic.

Like Casshern, Goemon takes the audience into an alternate reality. The effects and design combine to create a surreal and fantastical technicolour world, mimicking the pages of comic books and frames of video games. Grand in both scale and scope it offers up battle scenes filled with gigantic clashing armies, all of which are filmed with sumptuous composition and stunning colour. CGI is utilized for 90% of the film, which enables Kiriya to display some of the most multi-tiered and jaw-dropping Ninja battles ever committed to film, and Ninja action has never looked so beautiful.

In a local twist, Australian fashion designers Tina Kalivas and Vaughan Alexander both teamed up to create the costume design for Goemon. The costumes feature an ancient-Orient-meets-Europe decadence, and Kalivas' work shows imaginative use of embroidery, pleating and texture in her breathtaking interpretations of kimono, ninja suits and samurai armour. Trained at the legendary house of Alexander McQueen, Kalivas has created an otherworldly collection of dramatic pieces that are reminiscent of a bygone and decadent era. This is the first ever collaboration between a major Japanese production and an Australian designer.

Goemon is a truly epic big screen experience packed with CGI and spectacular live-action stunt work. This visual feast screens from Saturday 8 May until Sunday 30 May.

For more information and session times please visit:

Further information

Samatha Chater
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2475 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 655
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