Ken Takakura (1931-2014) was a major film star for nearly five decades. He also became a national icon for embodying traditional virtues, especially in his dozens of gang films for the Toei studio in the 1960s and ’70s.
Often cast as a wandering outlaw stoically willing to sacrifice himself for others, Takakura coolly dispatched his enemies with a swift Japanese sword (never a Western-style pistol) in one-against-all fight scenes that had his baby boomer fans cheering: They saw parallels between his battles with corrupt gangsters and their own struggles against entrenched power structures.
After leaving Toei in 1976, Takakura played fewer violent characters but continued to be the stand-up guy fans affectionately called “Ken-san” until the end of his career, both on screen and in his private life.
To commemorate the third anniversary of Takakura’s death on Nov. 10, 2014, Tokyo Station Gallery is presenting an exhibition dedicated to the actor and his work from Nov. 19 to Jan. 15. Fans can enjoy clips from all his 205 films, including some extreme rarities, on 20 monitors in the gallery.
Also on display will be scripts, props, posters, stills and other materials from Takakura’s own collection.
“Ken Takakura: Retrospective” (“Tsuito Tokubetsuten: Ken Takakura”) at Tokyo Station Gallery runs from Nov. 11 to Jan. 15; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ¥1,300. Closed Mon. For more details, visit www.ejrcf.or.jp/gallery.
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