In the English brochure of "EUREKA" for the Cannes Film Festival, the director, Shinji Aoyama writes
"PRINCIPAL THEMES" of this film.
" This film is a sort of prayer for modern man, who is searching for the courage to go on living.
A crime is committed suddenly, as if it were a natural disaster. It changes the life of three
people, who formerly led lives that were quite normal. It is as if they are pursued by
an endless tidal wave preventing them from regaining their balanced lives. On the edge of despair, they take
off for a voyage of resurrection.
In my earlier films, I told stories that juxtaposed social misfits, each under the burden of that particular
psychological baggage of post-War Japan. With EUREKA, I add to my body of work a prayer for life and
the desire to be reborn.
The number four has an important place in EUREKA. There are four principal players and four tombs in the
front yard. Four is a number that moves the wheel of destiny - at least in the first part of the film. In
Japanese, the number of four is pronounced "shi", which could also signify death. The number four could
also stand for the traditional family (two parents, two children).
In the last twenty years, family tradition has all but disintegrated, and the ideal number four has become
In "Working with Actors" of the same brochure, Aoyama comments on Koji Yakusho as follows:
I am a big fan of YAKUSHO Koji, who plays the bus driver; and especially liked his work in the films of
KUROSAWA Kiyoshi. In EUREKA he is a surrogate for both father and mother. But over time, he says to
Kozue, "Let's go home," just like John Wayne to Natalie Wood in the last scene of "The Searchers."
Although EUREKA might not seem so, it is indeed a western!
Interview with AOYAMA Shinji (From the English Brochure of "Eureka" for the Cannes Film Festival)
Birth of the Project
When he invited me to participate in J-Works, I had not worked with my friend, Sento Takenori, since
"Helpless", my first feature in 1995.
At the time, I had the music of several rock albums going around in my head: especially daydream Nationby
Sonic Youth and Eureka by Jim Oourke. I was also thinking about John Ford's The Searchers. Then I met
YAKUSHO Koji, who had played the lead in several films by KUROSAWA Kiyoshi, with whom I had
worked as assistant, and whose style has greatly influenced mine.
YAKUSHO Koji expressed interest in doing a film with me in our native prefecture, the island of Kyushu.
For me the landscape and dialect of Kyushu are essential elements in the film. I had lived there and shot
Helples there. We, therefore, began developing a story set in our birthplace.
The people of Kyushu began to take a central place in my thoughts, as they recounted their stories in local
dialect. Without the local character of language, I could never have woven real emotions into the story.
Two stories came to the fore. One about the personal collapse and feeling of powerlessness of people who
had been through a devastating accident. The other was about people who struggled to restart their
interrupted lives. I combined the two stories and began writing them in dialect. Without the local character
of language, I could never have woven real emotions into the story.
Work on the story began simply: I just wanted to film a bus that never stopped moving. As there are two
parts to the story, I used one bus for the hijacking and another for the sequence depicting the rebirth of the
driver and children.
I wanted to make a film in its most elemental state. Therefore, I chose black and white cinemascope
(actually sepia, because we shot on color stock). This format is almost never used in Japan these days even
though it was the studio norm in the 60s and 70s.
The director of photography, TAMURA Masaki, and I are spiritual friends. I almost never feel the need to
give him technical directions. We understand each other intuitively. In fact, he frequently contributed more
than I could imagine. We spoke outside of our time working on the set.
" EUREKA" finally started showing in Tokyo from January 20th (Sat), 2001.
I have already seen the film twice. It is such a wonderful film! Some people criticize the length of the film
(217 minutes) , but I did not feel it to be so long at all. The story gives viewers a feeling of tension, and at the
same time, evokes sympathy for the main characters.
The Kyushu Island scenery forms a delightful background setting to the story.
Koji's acting is superb! Being a native of Nagasaki prefecture, Koji speaks Japanese in the
Kyushu dialect quite naturally and without affectation; I was enthralled by the sound of his
speech in this film.
In Kyushu, southwest Japan, one hot summer morning, a municipal bus hijacked.
In the carnage, only three people survive: the driver (Koji Yakusho), school girl, and
her older brother.
Suffering from trauma, the driver disappears. The children withdraw in silence.
Two years later, their mother has divorced and their father dies at the wheel of his car.
They now live alone in the family home.
The driver returns to town and takes up household with the children, who are soon joined
by their cousin, a college student on vacation. The body of a murdered woman is discovered on their river
bank: and the police suspect the driver.
Soon after, he buys an old bus; fits it with beds and invites the three young people to leave on a trip.
Koji's Yakusho's latest film "Eureka" directed by Shinji Aoyama was nominated for the competition at the
53rd Cannes Film Festival as one of the 23 films. The result was that it had won FIPRESCI Award and the
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.
IMDb reports the reason for the awards, saying that it is "for its penetrating insights into the lives of
survivors of a tragedy, for the formal beauty of the photography, and for the moving performance. "
Release date: January 20, 2001 Running time:217 min.
Koji Yakusho .... Makoto Sawai
Aoi Miyazaki .... Kozue Tamura
Mamoru Miyazaki ... Naoki Tamura
Yoichiro Saito .... Akihiko, Naoki & Kozue's relative from
Sayuri Kokushou .... Yumiko, Makoto's wife
Ken Mitsuishi .... Shigeo, Makoto's friend
Go Riju .... Busjack man
Yutaka Matsushige .... Police detective
Sansei Shiomi .... Yoshiyuki Sawai, Makoto's elder brother
Updated on November 21, 2009
Producer SENTO Takenori
Co-producer Philip AVRIL
Assistant Producer SATO Kumi
Director .... AOYAMA Shinji
Story .... AOYAMA SHINJI
Cinematography .... TAMURA Masaki
LIghting .... SATO YUZURU
Sound .... KIKUCHI Nobuyuki
Production Designer ..... SHIMIZU Tskeshi
Music .... YAMADA Isao & AOYAMA Shinji
Editing .... Aoyama Shinji