Jun Ichikawa

Active - 1987 - 2013  |   Born - Jan 1, 1948   |   Died - Sep 12, 2008   |   Genres - Drama

Share on

Biography by Nathan Southern

Director Jun Ichikawa retains a status as one of the more important and interesting Japanese filmmakers to surface during the late 20th century, emerging as he did in the wake of Mizoguchi and Ozu. Intriguingly, unlike the said directors, Ichikawa approached cinema by treading down an explicitly commercial career path; he established himself in the 1970s as one of the top-ranked directors of television advertisements in Japan, which helped him develop a facility for conveying short narratives (and ideas) in short time spans, and thus neatly paved the way for narrative features. He entered that realm in 1987, first with the acclaimed teen-oriented drama Bu-Su, then with a series of highly regarded dramas that tagged him with a recurrent signature style and thematic emphasis: innately low-key, understated examinations of daily life, in the vein of Ozu and Eric Rohmer. Ichikawa openly acknowledged his debt to these giants; other influences whom he cited ranged from Takeshi "Beat" Kitano (Violent Cop) to Mike Leigh (Naked) to Fran├žois Truffaut (The Man Who Loved Women). Ichikawa earned particularly sweeping acclaim for three efforts: the gentle, observant domestic drama Tokyo Siblings (1995); the middle-aged relationship chronicle Tokyo Lullaby (1997) (both of the said films explicitly demonstrating Ozu-esque qualities); and the 2004 Tony Takitani, adapted from a story by the stylistically similar Haruki Murakami. Takitani swept up numerous honors, including the Special Jury and FIPRESCI Prizes at the Locarno Film Festival.

On a tragic note, Ichikawa suddenly died at age 59 in autumn 2008 while wrapping up work on his feature Buy a Suit. The cause of death was undisclosed.