by Chris MaGee
I could easily see a run on Osamu Dazai novels in bookstores next year in Japan (and maybe here in North America if any of you out there feel like a read). 2009 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the hard-drinking, morphine-addicted and tragically suicidal author (pictured above) and to mark the occasion film adaptations of some of his best known works have been popping up one after the other. First there was the Eriko Sato starring version of Dazai's 1956 novel "TheSetting Sun" and then the adaptation of Dazai's 1947 book "Villion's Wife" starring Takako Matsu as the long-suffering wife of an alcoholic poet to be played by Tadanobu Asano.
Now a third project has been announced for next year. Dazai's 1945 novel "Pandora's Box" will be coming to the big screen courtesy of director Masanori Tominaga who previously helmed the 2006 Jo Odagiri film "The Pavillion Salamandre". "Pandora's Box" (not to be confused with the 1929 silent Louise Brooks film) is the story of a young boy named Hibari who is living in a tuberculosis sanatorium. Through a letter he is writing to a friend who has already recovered and been discharged Hibari tells of his relationship with two nurses who are helping to treat his illness.
The role of Hibari will be played by Shota Sometani and the two nurses will be played by Riisa Naka (Gachi Boy, Café Isobe) and singer and writer Mieko Kawakami in her acting debut. The cast will be rounded out by Yosuke Kubozuka, Ryo Fukawa, Yoriko Douguchi, and Mickey Curtis.
"Pandora's Box" is set for a fall 2009 release in Japan. Thanks to Tokyograph for this story... and for those of you who want to brush up on your Dazai before next year check out his books in English translation here.