Solntse (The Sun) ~ (Russia, 2005) ~ Netflix Stream

This is the third part of the great Aleksandr Sokurov’s (Russian Ark) tetralogy: Moloch about Hitler and Taurus about Lenin. Faust, the fourth part, is in post-production. Here we find Emperor Hirohito near the end of the war. He’s somewhat of an amateur biologist, and as he says later, he “immerses” himself in that discipline by way of escape. He is studying the hermit crab, when he starts to riff on the crab’s nature, its migration patterns, and on emigration, the treatment of Japanese in America circa 1924. There is no escape. When has a vision of the war’s devastation in an afternoon nap, a vision that has morphed from his marine biology studies to bombings (fish become bombers), he wakes up with tears in his eyes – another sign that he is a man like any other. God’s don’t cry.

Later, when the surrender takes place, and upon leaving the presence of General MacArthur, he has difficulty opening the door, never having had the occassion of actually doing it for himself.  Back at his palace he places one of the small busts he has on his writing table in the drawer – the bust of Bonaparte, leaving only Darwin and Lincoln.

After his second meeting with MacArthur, Hirohito suggests that Hirohito’s family can return to the palace. He tells his wife that he has done it, he’s free. He has renounced his divinity. An aide tells him that the soundman who had taped his speech for broadcast to the Japanese people has committed hari-kari.

Issei Ogata plays Hirohito as a stiff, grimacing, uncomfortable man. Robert Dawson’s MacArthur just seems all wrong. Although not up to the brilliance of Russian Ark, and probably of even lesser appeal to a wider audience (perhaps explaining the 4 year journey to cross the Atlantic), The Sun is a film of merit if you have the patience for its pacing.

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