Kimura Takeo

Aaron Gerow aaron.gerow at
Wed Mar 24 20:19:22 EDT 2010

The Asahi reports this morning that the illustrious art director,  
Kimura Takeo, passed away on March 21, 2010, of pneumonia. He was 91.

Kimura is most famous for his collaborations with Suzuki Seijun, but  
KImura had already worked in the industry for over 20 years before he  
first joined Seijun on Akutaro in 1963. Kimura entered the Nikkatsu  
Tamagawa studio in 1941, but debuted as an art director at Daiei  
(which took over Nikkatsu's production division during the big wartime  
mergers) in 1945. His first well-known works were literary adaptations  
such as Gan (1953) or family dramas such as Keisatsu nikki (Police  
Diary, 1955). He returned to Nikkatsu when it resumed production in  
1954. He was central in helping create the "mukokuseki" or  
"nationless" feel of Nikkatsu Action films, creating a unique world  
mixing the imaginary and the real, foregrounding style and color. That  
was not his only style, however, as he also worked on the social  
realist films of Kumai Kei such as Shinobugawa (1972) and Sea and  
Poison (1986). His most famous work was probably Seijun's  
Zigeunerweisen (1980), but other well known films include Itami Juzo's  
Tampopo (1985). He won a prize at the 1990 Montreal Film Festival for  
his work on Shikibu monogatari. As a footnote, Kimura was one of the  
eight people (including Sone Chusei, Yamatoya Atsushi, etc.) who  
participated in the scriptwriting for Seijun's films at Nikkatsu under  
the name Guru Hachiro.

Kimura returned to the news in the last few years for taking up the  
megaphone, helming the short Mugen Sasurai in 2004 and the feature  
films Yume no mani mani (2008) and Ogonka (2009), making him one of  
the oldest "new directors."

Kimura won many awards during his long career involving over 230  
films. He was the Yamaji Fumiko Culture Award in 1991, the Mainichi  
Art Award in 2006. He also served as the head of the Nikkatsu Art  
Academy. He wrote a number of books about his career and art  
directing, including Waga honseki wa eigakan (1986), Eiga bijutsu  
(2004), and the recent Urabanashi hitotsu eiga jinsei kyujunen (2009).

He was arguably the original and prominent of Japanese art directors  
and he will be missed.

Aaron Gerow
KineJapan owner

Associate Professor
Film Studies Program/East Asian Languages and Literatures
Yale University

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