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Finding a purpose: Johnny Depp plays a troubled genius in 'Minamata'

By Thomas Escritt

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one actor who needs a good strong role without magic or funny hats.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Smith’s photos of the Minamata victims are really something. Hard to look at, some of them. I had no idea Smith had such demons of his own. If Johnny Depp is at his best, there’s no-one better to play a role like that.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Smith was viciously beaten up by yakuza thugs in Chiba. The yakuza thugs were hired by the president of Chisso corporation, Mr. Yutaka Egashira. Chisso was responsible for Minamata. The beating affected Smith's health and led to his early death. Mr. Yutaka Egashira was the grandfather of the current Empress of Japan. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Alfie Noakes:

Now there's a background story, fascinating stuff. Thanks for that. Your post inspired to me look up the Yutaka-Egashira-Chisso-Empress of Japan link, and if anyone else is interested, here's the Wikipedia article on it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I had never seen there photo of Tomoko Uemura before, but it is a classic.

The Minamata scandal is always worth considering when looking at how Japan works. As Alfie notes above, the Yakuza were soon on the case to suppress campaigners. The government was slow to react and favoured the company's side. Sound familiar?

I'm sure that we'll be discussing this movie again - the usual people will claim that it is Japan bashing.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

one actor who needs a good strong role without magic or funny hats.

Or a sociopathic super abusing ex-wife...……. anyone else notice how this aspect is missing......

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Now there's a background story, fascinating stuff.

Smith's whole life as a photographer is fascinating. Well worth reading about. Apart from the fact that he was an immensely gifted and prolific photographer, he was on the scene at some historically and socially crucial moments of the 20th century. In some of those, he was the moment, in a sense, because his photographs are now the best representation we have of the event or the (human) subject.

His driven, near-manic personality is probably inseparable from his output, which is unfortunate because it seems to have consumed him and shortened his life. He was obsessive, almost to the point of madness. But that's how he came up with things like the jazz loft project. If he'd done nothing else in his life - which certainly isn't the case - that alone would have been a monumental achievement. Not bad for a harebrained scheme: read about the audio recordings.

A fictionalized biopic cannot do him justice. He needs the documentary treatment. A few have been made - you can just about find them on DVD - but there could never be enough, and anything less than HD/bluray/4K won't cut it, so there's space for a new one . I'm not going to watch this film, because I dislike biopics, but I really hope it boosts Smith enough in terms of popular awareness for more books and documentaries to be released.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"poisoned by emissions from the town's chemical plant."

I was under the impression that the cause was wastewater from the Chisso factory containing methylmercury that climbed up the food chain. This is usually called "discharge" or "release". The term "emissions" is used for non-liquids such as gases, smoke or radiation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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