by Chris MaGee
In my initial Oscar report yesterday I mentioned how the Academy flubbed during their annual tribute to the actors and industry giants that had passed away during the previous year. When it came time to acknowledge the passing of Japanese director Kon Ichikawa (above left) somebody got the extras on their Criterion DVD for Ichikawa's 1956 film "The Burmese Harp" mixed up and the star of the film, veteran actor Rentaro Mikuni (above right), was shown instead of Ichikawa.
As most of us know Ichikawa passed away in February of 2008 at the age of 92, but Mikuni who also starred in films for Hirsohi Inagaki, Masaki Kobayashi and Shohei Imamura is still alive and working.
When Marty Gross, who works on putting together the interviews and extras for the Criterion Collections DVDs (read our interview with him here), saw this he was just as confused as all of us, probably more so, "It's my footage for Criterion," he said via email about the the clip of Mikuni that was shown. Not wanting to leave a mistake like that unaddressed Gross contacted his connections at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences the day after the broadcast to make them aware of the mix-up. Obviously embarrassed they immediately apologized.
But how does 86-year-old Mikuni feel about being mistaken for his former director and colleague? Gross spoke to Mikuni's manager who said that, "We had a big laugh." So as Gross so succinctly put it, "Mikuni laughed. Ichikawa is dead. There goes."