Archive for the Tampopo (1985) Category

Tampopo (1985)

Posted in Tampopo (1985) on July 12, 2010 by Kanpoj K.

Tampopo (1985)

Directed by Juzo Itami

It is almost like a mainstream Japanese film but the random insert of the irrelevant scene make it more interesting. The main theme of this film is food and what food means to different people. It is a dark comedy in a way that it criticizes the modern Japanese society.

The main storyline is about a widow tries to improve her noodle shop to be the best one in town, with a help of a stranger who always wears a cowboy hat (even in bath).  At the end when they success, the guy walk away without saying goodbye, almost like many cowboy films. He comes from nowhere to help and when he finished the task, he left.

The story follows the three acts structure like other mainstream film. It has the beginning, the climax and the ending. However, the film also includes many scenes that are not related to the main story, almost random. These scenes reflect the director’s opinions about the modern Japanese society.

For example, the rich couple who get shot at the end. The food for them represents lust. They torture animal for their own sexual entertainment. They eat while having sex. They even talk about food when he is going to die. This scene reflects the consuming habit of the rich who have things more than they needed. They live to eat, not eat to live.

Another example is the scene where the old noodle master teaches a young guy how to eat noodle properly. Food in this scene represents art. They look at the food as a piece of art. They have a certain way to look at it, touch it and eat it. It makes the audience hungry. And that is how Japanese people look at food as well. They gently slice small piece of raw fish, put it neatly on plain rice, and sell it for an expensive price. In contrast to some country, they fry the whole fish, throw in on a plate and it cost a lot less.

Another interesting scene is when the wife cooks dinner for the family for the last time. The food in this scene represents duty and responsibility. The wife is dying but all they care is how they will get food for the next meal if she dies. That’s comedy. It also reflects the male dominant in Japan society.

The last random scene I’ll talk about it when the Japanese people try to eat like a western. Food in this scene represents the social class. They try to be in a higher class and they think one way to be is to know how to eat like a western. That’s another comment from the director. The comedy starts when they see how the real western people eat and it has no rules at all. He just eats the way he feels like it. And the Japanese start to eat like him. The director uses the overacting to show how embarrass it is to lose their identity.