Takeshi Kitano

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kitano Takeshi in Cannes, 2000

Takeshi Kitano ( Japanese 北野 武 Kitano Takeshi ; born January 18, 1947 in Adachi , Tokyo ) is a Japanese director , actor , poet, author, TV and radio presenter, painter and popular comedian. In Germany, he is primarily known thanks to the films Hana-Bi , Battle Royale , Zatoichi - The Blind Samurai , Kikujiros Sommer , but also the game show Takeshi's Castle . Since April 2005 he has also been a lecturer at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music . In Japan he is also known under the pseudonym Beat Takeshi .


Until 1976, comedian

Kitano was born in January 1947 in Adachi, a working-class district on the outskirts of Tokyo. He was the fourth and youngest child of his mother Saki († 1999) and his father Kikujiro († 1979). Together with his siblings - Shigekazu, Yasuko and Masaru - Kitano had a very uncomfortable and difficult childhood: His father - a painter by profession - mostly spent his money on drinking and playing, so that the family lived in poverty. When his father wanted to sleep, the young Takeshi was probably sent under the street lamp to read in order to protect the only light source in the room, a flashlight. His mother Saki, on the other hand, worked hard and gave all of her children a good education. Thanks to this, Kitano made it to Meiji University , which he left only a short time later. At the same time, he was running away from home.

After doing various odd jobs, for example as a taxi driver or waiter, he went to Asakusa . At the strip bar France-za, Kitano, who from now on wanted to be a comedian, was offered a job as an elevator boy. Later he received an education from his master Fukami Senzaburo. After a few bumpy performances, he met the comedian Kaneko Kiyoshi. Together they formed the comedy duo "The Two Beats", where also Kitano today's stage name Beat Takeshi comes, Kitano played the traditional "Boke" the fool ( Manzai ). The duo soon became known, as Kitano's aggressive and socially critical humor was particularly popular with the youth. One of his most famous gags is still today: "Akashingo, minna de watareba kowakunai" ("If everyone crosses the street when it's red, it's safe") and his "Comaneci", which he still uses today and which is named after the Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci is named. When Kitano's humor became too provocative for Kiyoshi, the duo separated and he continued successfully as a solo artist.

Until 1993

In 1976 Kitano met the comedian Mikiko while making a guest appearance on a television show. The two married in 1978.

From 1981 Kitano had especially success with the show "Ore-tachi hyokinzoku" ("We are a comedian family"), in which he played "Takechan Man" with his colleague Akashiya Sanma. Akashiya represented Takechan Man's opponents, who changed over the years. In the same year his weekly radio show "All night nippon" started. Kitano based the program on the postcards sent to him by the audience, thus creating a relatively close, almost fraternal relationship with his audience - which consisted largely of young people. Topics ranged from family stories to tips for masturbating.

On March 31, 1981, Kitano's son Atsushi was born. His daughter Shoko was born on October 5, 1982.

Takeshi Kitano's acting talent was discovered by the filmmaker Nagisa Ōshima, who is still renowned today .

In 1983 Kitano was allowed to play the bald Japanese sergeant "Gengo Hara" of a prisoner-of-war camp in a supporting role in the film " Furyo - Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence ". For him, it was a positive and pointedly sympathetic appearance, as in the finale on Christmas Eve, drunk and smiling as "Santa Claus", he waives two inmates from their sentences. Kitano took a liking to the cinema. Although television films followed, in which one experienced a serious Kitano in dramatic roles, this facet was only really accepted from the end of the 1990s.

1986 was a very eventful year for Kitano. Friday magazine published a photo of him and a young woman claiming she was his lover. Thereupon Kitano and his followers, the Takeshi Gundan, attacked the editorial office of the newspaper. Kitano was arrested. He faced six months in prison, but ultimately got away with a fine. He then took a month-long break from television, and thus from the public, after this scandal almost cost him his marriage, as Kitano had been seen many times with young women. In fact, Kitano and Mikiko are married to this day.

In 1989 Kitano was supposed to take on the lead role in a film by Kinji Fukasaku. Since Kitano couldn't keep Fukasaku's schedule, the latter parted with the project and Kitano shot his first film Violent Cop or Sono otoko, kyobo ni tsuki (be careful, this man is dangerous ). One of Kitano's next films, the bloody and poetic gangster ballad Sonatina , was shown at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival in the series “ Un Certain Regard ”. But even if the international press was very positive about him, Kitano's films were not very successful outside of Japan.

“In Japan, on the other hand, Kitano has the 'problem' of being an absolute media superstar under the name Beat Takeshi. Expectations were attached to his work that, at least at first glance, had little to do with his films. Many believed that his directorial ambition was just one more of the many Takeshi crickets, a small stone in the mosaic of his oeuvre that should not be taken seriously. "

- Olaf Möller : Eye Views / Takeshi Kitano , Lexicon of International Film

Career after his scooter accident in 1994

Shortly after the shooting of his film Minna Yatteruka - Getting Any , on August 2, 1994, Kitano had a serious accident. In Shinjuku district , Kitano took a right turn too hard on his scooter, hit a pillar and flew four meters before hitting the tarmac. He suffered a serious head injury.

After two days in a coma, Kitano woke up without being able to remember the accident. In fact, it could never be clarified whether it was an accident or a suicide attempt, which Kitano was considering before the accident. After a long rehabilitation, during which he also painted his pictures, which would later be seen in the films Hana-Bi and Kikujiros Sommer , Kitano appeared again on TV. The integration into the television world went smoothly, although Kitano has been paralyzed in the right half of his face, which is marked with a large scar, since the accident. In addition, you can sometimes notice a minimal involuntary twitching of one half of the face.

According to a survey by the magazine “Spa!” In 1995, Beat Takeshi was the most popular man in Japan. Between 1990 and 1995, he was voted TV star of the year six times in a row in the annual audience survey by the television station NHK .

In 1996 he made the film Kids Return , which was also shown in Cannes and received excellent reviews. Nonetheless, his films remained only moderately commercially successful outside of Asia.

A television show called こ こ が ヘ ン だ よ 日本人 Koko ga hen da yo, nihonjin (That makes no sense, dear Japanese) has been known since 1998. Classical Gaijin such as Christoph Neumann talked about the oddities and absurd behavior of the Japanese and Japanese culture .

Success as a filmmaker

It wasn't until 1997 that the breakthrough came outside of Japan. His film Hana-Bi won the Golden Lion at the 1997 Venice Film Festival . From one day to the next, Kitano was now a big movie star outside of Japan.

In 1999 the film Kikujiro no natsu ( Kikujiros Summer ) followed, which was considered a favorite in Cannes, but came out empty-handed. Despite the title, the film is not a direct homage to Kitano's father Kikujiro; he has no elements that are reminiscent of his father. However, Kitano admitted that he was showing respect to his father "instead of visiting his grave".

In 2000, an English-language documentary about the life and work of Kitano was published under the title "Scenes by the Sea: Takeshi Kitano". Two years earlier, in 1998, a French-language portrait entitled “L'imprevisible” (“The Unpredictable”) had already appeared, shot by Jean-Pierre Limousin.

Kitano made his first film abroad in 2000 and took on the leading role himself. The bilingual, bloodier again film Brother takes place in Los Angeles and also deals with the topic of cultural differences and the resulting misunderstandings. This was followed by the film Dolls , a colorful and splendid episode film in which he works off all the clichés of the last few films.

In 2003, Zatoichi was a great commercial success in Japan. Kitano won the Silver Lion with the film in Venice. Zatoichi is originally a series of films that ran from 1962 to 1989. Since the death of the Zatoichi actor Shintaro Katsu, Kitano was the first to take up the subject again in an ironic way.

In 2004 he played the leading role in the bitter drama Blood & Bones ( Chi to hone ) by Yoichi Sai . Critics praised the very physical representation of a patriarchal monster.

With an increasing degree of self-referentiality, he followed the surrealist footnotes to his oeuvre with the following comedies , and with an "Ultra Variety Movie" allowed the world public to participate in an artistic reorientation process with an indefinite outcome:

In 2005 his film Takeshi's was shown at the Venice Film Festival. There it was only moderately well received. It was presented in Germany at the 2006 Munich Film Festival .

His film Glory to the Filmmaker! ( Kantoku! Banzai! ) Was the first film with the new Glory to the Filmmaker! -Prize awarded at the 2007 Venice Film Festival . A year later, in 2008, Kitano received an invitation to compete at the 65th Venice Film Festival for Achilles to kame ( Achilles and the Tortoise ) . The film was shown for the first time in Germany at the 2009 Munich Film Festival.

He created an episode of "Chacun son cinéma" for the Cannes Film Festival.

In March 2010 Kitano was appointed Commandeur des Arts et Lettres in France . His film Outrage received an invitation to compete at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival that same year .

Takeshi sparked controversy in May 2012 when he announced on television that Barack Obama's call to open marriage to same-sex couples would ultimately lead to the legalization of zoophile marriages. After civil rights activists accused Takeshi of homophobia , Takeshi alleged that he had been misunderstood but did not apologize. In the same year he received his seventh invitation to the competition of the Venice Film Festival for his feature film Outrage Beyond .


The trademarks of his work are the use of contrasting genre elements, a laconic main character, his sense of absurdity paired with real compassion, the violation of narrative patterns (especially through elliptical omissions) and the disappointment of expectations, visually the predominant static and unconventional photography or surprising montage with an overall "calm" staging. Staring into the camera is reminiscent of the Kuleschow effect . In the case of Kitano , violence literally explodes . The humor in the early films is based on repetition and exaggeration and contrast, which can hardly be separated from his presence as an actor. The films are dominated by repetitive, often electronic, often romantic music (he ended his collaboration with Joe Hisaishi in 2003). Katsumi Yanagishima has been his camera director since 1990 .

While Golden Lion winner Hana-Bi was a fatalistic meditation on grief and despair, playfulness, self-irony or slapstick seem to come to the fore (again) in the later work . According to Zatoichi , all regularities in Kitano's cinema can be regarded as canceled.



Actor (selection)


Video games

  • Yakuza 6 (Ryu ga Gotoku 6)


  • Louis Heaton: Scenes by the Sea: Takeshi Kitano , TV documentary, United Kingdom, 2000.
  • Jean-Pierre Limousin: Takeshi Kitano - L'imprevisible , TV documentary, France, 1998.


  • 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano. Tadao Press, 1999, ISBN 0-9527951-1-6 (English)
  • Maho Wada, silent violence. Productions of death in the films of Takeshi Kitano . Berlin, Avinus, 2005.
  • Horst Peter Koll, Catholic Institute for Media Information, Catholic Film Commission for Germany (Ed.): Lexicon of international films . Two thousand and one, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-86150-455-3 .
  • Casio Abe: Beat Takeshi vs. Takeshi Kitano . Kaya Press, 2005, ISBN 1-885030-40-1 (English).
  • Maho Wada: Silent Violence: Staging of Death in the Films by Takeshi Kitano . Avinus-Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-930064-60-X (Master's thesis).
  • Aaron Gerow: Kitano Takeshi . British Film Institute, London 2007, ISBN 1-84457-166-1 (English).
  • Bernd Kiefer : [Article] Takeshi Kitano. In: Thomas Koebner (Ed.): Film directors. Biographies, work descriptions, filmographies. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2008 [1. Edition 1999], ISBN 978-3-15-010662-4 , pp. 393-396 [with references].

Web links

Commons : Takeshi Kitano  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Olaf Möller: Augen-Blick / Takeshi Kitano , Lexicon of International Films, Volume 1, Page F 26
  2. See it in Kantoku! Banzai!
  3. Möller, page F 25
  4. cf. Vivarelli, Nick: Venice Film Festival announces Slate ( Memento from June 18, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), July 29, 2008 (accessed July 30, 2008)
  5. Munich Film Festival 2009 Munich Film Festival Program , (accessed on September 16, 2009)
  6. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100311a6.html
  7. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/beat-takeshi-compares-same-sex-marriage-with-bestiality
  8. http://www.japantoday.com/category/entertainment/view/takeshi-rejects-anti-gay-accusation
  9. Bob Davis: Takeshi Kitano. In: Senses of Cinema. June 2003, accessed July 27, 2007 .