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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Leona, the Geminoid F debuts in Japanese film Sayanora

The dismantling of ‘Chitti’ – the robot in Enthiran made people feel sad.  Tinseldom often talks of ‘chemistry’ between – hero and heroine – what ? – and how would they describe this relationship in the Japanese movie ‘Sayonara’ ??.  The Japanese film, a science-fiction drama called Sayonara, written and directed by Koji Fukada follows the relationship between two friends in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster – for sure would be hotly discussed in the media !

Tania, is played by the 27-year-old Bryerly Long, and is dying of radiation poisoning. Tania’s best friend is good looking Leona.  For the most part the two women are alone together, either reminiscing and reading poetry in Tania’s house or going for walks in the surrounding grey-gold countryside. Fukada adapted it from a short play of the same name by Oriza Hirata.  A situational story-line, heroine are often good looking ~ there is mention of Leona’s delicious eeriness to the tiniest details of her movements – the way she blinks as she talks, for instance, or adjusts her eye line to look directly at people while they talk to her.  She is not fussy; doesn't need fame, flattery or money.  Would not demand ‘apple juice, suite, caravan, and extraordinary facilities’ – and whatmore, can replicate her best everytime !

Nataraja Mudaliar, a young businessman from Chennai went to Pune, trained under an English cameraman; returned to the city and  set up a studio. He produced and directed the first Tamil silent movie, Keechaka vatham  in 1918 – based on a short story from the Indian epic Mahabharata; it starred Raja Mudaliar as Keechaka and Jeevarathnam as the female lead.  There was to be another – UR Jeevarathinam who acted in : Sati Akalya, Padma Jyothi, Thayumanavar, Uthama PUthiran, Sathiyavani, Parasumar, Baktha Gowri…. From olden days, the heroine adds not only glitz and glamour but also to the success of a movie. 

Leona is no human ~ she is a Geminoid F. In many ways, she’s perfect for the movie business. She’s beautiful, engaging, and can carry out a director’s every request on cue.Time after time, she replicates the same performance without the slightest fluff or fumble, and can work for weeks on end without complaint. You don’t even have to pay her. Just remember to plug her in at night so she doesn’t die on set the next day, and she’ll be fine.

Android called 'Geminoid F' robot co-stars alongside a human in the film 'Sayonara' set in the aftermath of a deadly nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan.  The robot is designed to look and act like a human with rubber 'skin' and a woman's face - but it is unable to walk and is wheeled around in the film.Geminoid F - or Leona in the film - is referred to by director Koji Fukada as an 'actress,' and the android is even listed as a member of the cast in the end credits.

While robots have featured prominently in many films, most are played by real actors or created using visual effects. Geminoid F was produced by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a renowned robot designer at Osaka University in western Japan, whose androids come with a £776,000 price tag.Geminoid F was cheaper - just £72,000, which Ishiguro hopes may take the technology closer to the mainstream. She can smile, furrow her brows and move her mouth. It can also talk and sing - playing recordings, or 'mouthing' other people's voices.The robot is equipped with motorised actuators, powered by air pressure, which allow her to 'copy' human facial expressions. In the film, it is controlled remotely from a laptop.

The android, called Geminoid F, was designed to look and act like a human with rubber 'skin' and a woman's face - but it is unable to walk and is wheeled around in the film.  Prof Ishiguro has designed several robots made to look like humans in the past - even building one in his own image. The professor has said that one day robots could fool us into believing they are human. In the film, shown in the competition section of the Tokyo International Film Festival, the robot stays loyal to its owner - played by Bryerly Long - as the nation evacuates following a nuclear disaster.

The director Fukada said working with the android was easier than directing people, although he said laugh he had to watch to not break the robot as its repairs would come with a 10 million yen (£55,000) bill.'The android doesn't complain, never gets hungry and doesn't need to sleep at all,' he said at the film festival office.Sayonara opens in Japan on November 21. Overseas screenings are undecided. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
3rd Nov. 2015

Credits for Sayonara –

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