Futatabi (Swing Me Again)

I have been a friend of the actor Ichiro Zaitsu for almost two decades. Since around last year he often talked about the movie Futatabi (Swing Me Again) - about how he had agreed to take on the main role after being swept up by the enthusiasm of the movie痴 director, Toshi Shioya, how he had struggled to learn how to act the role, and so on.

In the movie Zaitsu plays the part of Kenzaburo Kishima. In his younger days Kenzaburo was a member of a jazz band. It is decided that the band will play at the famous Sone jazz club in Kobe, and the members are practicing passionately for the occasion. But before the performance, Kenzaburo痴 fingers go numb, and he is diagnosed as having Hansen痴 disease. Their dream of playing at Sone is shattered, but the band members split up with the promise that some day they will fulfill that dream.

Fifty years later, Kenzaburo leaves the island where he had been isolated and goes to live with his son痴 family. Together with his grandson Hiroto, Kenzaburo searches for the other band members, and he is reunited with them all. The scenes when he is reunited with the other members, played by Hiroshi Inuzuka, Mitsuo Sagawa, Shunji Fujimura, and others, are moving and humorous as well. In particular, the sound of Inuzuka playing a bass that he suddenly pulls out of a closet is truly awesome. Zaitsu was greatly moved by that professional sound, too.

My good friend Sadao Watanabe, nicknamed Nabesada, also appears in the movie as the owner of Sone. Until then Zaitsu and Watanabe apparently had never met. The other day I arranged a round of golf at the Daihakone Country Club for me, Zaitsu, Watanabe, and Pit Inn Music President Yoshitake Sato. The four of us thoroughly enjoyed the golf, and during and after the play Zaitsu and Watanabe chatted amicably about movies, music, and other topics.

Since the two are both good friends of mine, for me their meeting seemed like the chance encounter of the century. Zaitsu commented that the music in Futatabi was brought alive thanks to Watanabe痴 performance, adding forcefully that this 菟rofessional among professionals was simply great. Zaitsu痴 description of his intensive trumpet training, which had lasted for over a year, indicated the agony he must have gone through. He had to perform without moving his fingers, which apparently was very hard on his hands and palms. 展atanabe-san taught me a lot, he said. 的知 very grateful. To which Watanabe replied, 的 was astonished by Zaitsu-san痴 musical sense.

The young Kenzaburo痴 lover, a pianist, becomes pregnant, but when Kenzaburo is isolated with Hansen痴 disease, she is confined to a room in her family house. She passes away without ever being able to hug the child that is born. And Kenzaburo, isolated for 50 years, is also unable to hug or even see his child. On the distant island, all he can do is to gaze at a photo and just imagine.

Kenzaburo says to his only son Yoshio, played by Takanori Jinnai, 展ill you let me embrace you? 添ou池e joking, Yoshio replies. But then, hugged by his father, the son cries over his shoulder. Zaitsu told me, with a demonstration, how that scene had truly moved him. 笛innai really was crying, he said. 的 could feel the sorrow through my whole body.

The father embraces his son for the first time in 50 years. Thanks to this family bond, and the promise and bond with the other band members, he had been able to survive those 50 years of isolation. In the final scene, Yoshio surprises his father by gathering the other band members at Sone, and together with Watanabe they give a powerful live performance.

迭yohei Suzuki was marvelous as the grandson, wasn稚 he? I remarked. Narrowing his eyes, Zaitsu replied, 添es, he痴 a promising actor. And there was Minji, who played two roles in the movie?the pianist who was Kenzaburo痴 lover and a staff member at the Hansen痴 disease sanatorium. With a gentle smile, Zaitsu commented that her angelic singing voice 努as sparkling, wasn稚 it?