Film Title: Atama Yama (Mt. Head), 2002
Director: Koji Yamamura
Composer: Takeharu Kunimoto
Summary of Film
Atama Yama is a short animation film about a miserly man who recycles everything he comes across, specifically cherries. A cherry tree soon begins to grow atop his head and due to the oddity of this, he is alarmed and tries to cut the tree down, however, he eventually relinquishes every effort and welcomes the growth. Through various seasons of the year, the cherry tree remains atop his head, and as Spring approaches, it blooms and draws large crowds to the head. The constant misuse of the tree by the admiring crowd soon discomforts the miserly man, and he is eventually driven to a point of anguish, which ultimately leads to his death.
Summary of Director & Composer
Koji Yamamura is the director of Atama Yama. He is an independent Japanese animator that is widely known for creating excellent and provocative short animation films. He started his work with this genre at the age of 13, and since then he has gone on to achieve a lot of success and critical acclaim. His other works include; Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor (2007), Muybridge’s Strings (2011), and many others.
The composer of Atama Yama is Takeharu Kunimoto. He is chiefly known for being a shamisen player, which is a type of string instrument. His musical work in this short film is highly commendable.
Cultural Meaning & Review
At first, a lot of people like me, after watching Atama Yama perhaps thought there was no cultural significance to the film, but that rather Yamamura was trying to educate young children on the woes of being greedy. However, after doing countless research, it is safe to assume that this film is a brilliant masterpiece and it surely deserved its Academy Award nomination because it’s storyline is very relevant, not the easiest to dissect but nonetheless important.
Various analyses of this film suggest that Yamamura tried and succeeded in delivering an environmental message in this short film. It is believed that the main character, the miserly man is depicted as someone who is greedy and often recycling, which is synonymous to our present society, one where production is occurring in greater excess than recycling. The main character also has another significance throughout the course of the film, he represents earth, Mother Nature that is living and breathing and aware of all the negative actions and misuse of her resources by society. However, when the miserly man is eventually driven to anguish and death, it is suggested that perhaps the miserly man is an archetype of society and earth combined together because it represents a lack of future and possibly death of both earth and society if the current malpractice and misuse of environmental resources continue.
This film is a giant masterpiece and I can’t stress enough how significant Yamamura’s message is to our present society. Feel free to watch the full 10-minute long short film below.