David Bowie and I stood on a beach, at the water’s edge, toward the end of the second week of August 1982.

The beach was on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, and it was a balmy 20-odd degrees Celsius in the Tropic of Capricorn. The entire island was surrounded by a lagoon that led out to a reef; only ripples of waves were making it to shore in the soft mid-winter light. It was less than two weeks until the first day of principal photography on Nagisa Oshima’s World War II film, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.”

It was my job that day, as the director’s assistant, to introduce Ryuichi Sakamoto to Bowie; and now Sakamoto, who had just arrived on the island from Japan, was walking toward us. I had only met him once, briefly, during the costume fitting sessions in Tokyo in June.