Alone Across The Pacific

Alone Across The Pacific


Reviewed by: Liam Papworth

“Whatever your aspirations, they will amount to nothing if you lack stamina and spirit” – a fitting quote that will serve as a reminder and more importantly inspiration as one man goes on an adventure to sail across the Pacific and reach America.

Our hero’s story begins at Osaka harbour were he has assembled a boat he hopes will help him achieve this goal, we don’t know much about him at this point - how he got here, his personality and what lies ahead - in director Kon Ichikawa’s story of one man’s voyage out at sea.

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Kenichi Horie (Yujiro Ishihara) is a young man in over his head, he refuses to go to University much to the disapproval of his father and is paying 100,000 yen to hold a stake in a boat, a boat that he has big plans for, the kind of plans that will terrify his mother and put his life in considerable danger.

No Japanese man has ever crossed the Pacific Ocean to America, Kenichi plans to become the first; however, he faces an uphill climb to make it there. Not only must he tussle with the forces of Mother Nature, he must also overcome one other adversary that our protagonist never dreamed he’d be fighting with – himself. Kenichi’s long unaided journey has landed him with the burden of intense loneliness which has begun to take a profound effect on his state of mind, he’s seeing things, talking to himself and has now created yet another obstacle that he must prevail over.

Alone Across The Pacific features a beautiful score by Toru Takemitsu and while as much an adventure as it is about the human psyche, this is also essentially a movie that is difficult to get to grips with. Ichikawa’s story takes a while to get going; the flashback scenes giving us an insight into Kenichi’s life and character do not appear until nearly 30 minutes in making it difficult for us to engage with this character and the story.

Certainly Ishihara’s performance as the stubborn sailor is terrific and admirable. The many scenes involving him alone on his boat, with little dialogue and only the use of a voiceover, make it extremely difficult for the actor to hold the film together, and yet he pulls off the task impeccably.

Kon Ichikawa died in 2008 after a career which saw him direct over 80 films from documentaries to comedies, and while Alone Across The Pacific may not be a master piece it’s certainly an ambitious piece of work.

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2009
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Film based on the true story of one man's attempt to sail single-handed across the Pacific.
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Director: Kon Ichikawa

Writer: Kenichi Horie, Natto Wada

Starring: Yûjirô Ishihara, Masayuki Mori, Kinuyo Tanaka, Ruriko Asaoka, Hajime Hana

Year: 1963

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Japan


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