Death Note (2006 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Shūsuke Kaneko|
|Screenplay by||Tetsuya Oishi|
by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
|Music by||Kenji Kawai|
|Edited by||Yosuke Yafune|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
US$23 million (Japan)|
US$1.9 million (Hong Kong)
Death Note (デスノート Desu Nōto) is a 2006 live-action Japanese supernatural thriller film based on the Death Note manga (and later anime) series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. It was followed by a sequel, Death Note 2: The Last Name, released in the same year. The films primarily center on a university student who attempts to rid the world of the crime element with the help of a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in the pages, while being hunted down by an enigmatic and near-mythical international criminal profiler.
Another sequel, Death Note: Light Up the New World, was released in October 2016.
Within the Kanto region of Japan, Light Yagami, an intelligent yet disaffected Japanese college student stumbles across a mysterious dark-colored notebook, with the words "Death Note" marked on the cover, while returning home from his classes. The Death Note's instructions claim that if a person's name is written within while picturing that person's face, that person will die. Light is initially skeptical of the Death Note's authenticity, but after experimenting with it on a convicted criminal, he realizes it is real. After meeting with the previous owner of the Death Note, a Shinigami named Ryuk, Light seeks to become a literal human deity by passing his judgment on those he deems to be morally impure or impede his plans to change the world. He begins using the Death Note to kill numerous known criminals and law-offenders around the world, becoming a world-famous and near-mythical serial killer known as "Kira."
As the Kira killings continue, some in Japanese society come to see Kira as a righteous figure. Interpol launches an investigation of the murders, but months pass without any fruitful lead. The case eventually attracts the attention of L, a reclusive, enigmatic and world-renowned criminal profiler. Working with Interpol and the Japanese police force, L manages to confront Light through a television broadcast and demonstrates his deductive skills, correctly surmising Kira's residence in the Kanto region and that he can "kill without lifting a finger." The race begins between L and Light to discover each other's identity, and a game of cat and mouse ensues between the two geniuses.
After Light hacks into the police database to find information on acquitted criminals, L realizes that Kira is somehow related to the Kira task force led by Light's father Soichiro. Light finds out that he is being followed by an FBI agent named Raye Iwamatsu and, through a series of events, maipulates Iwamatsu into killing himself along with his fellow agents. Raye's fiance, Naomi Misora, takes it upon herself to uncover Kira's identity. Considering Light as the prime suspect, she kidnaps his girlfriend Shiori and demands that he confess if he wants to save her. Light adamantly insists that he is not Kira and pleads with her. When Shiori tries to escape, Naomi shoots her and abruptly commits suicide. Shiori dies in Light's arms.
Ryuk finds that Light had actually engineered Naomi's death using the Death Note, as he had already found out her identity and written a scenario whereby Naomi would commit suicide after shooting Shiori. Ryuk is confused that Light would deliberately put Shiori in danger, but Light reveals that he had written her name in the Death Note as well. Using these events to seemingly foster hatred for Kira, Light asks to join his father's task force. While Soichiro is slightly reluctant, L immediately grants his wish and it is hinted that he is still certain that Light is Kira.
As a precursor to the second movie, Misa, an actress, is chased down an alley by a man wielding a knife, intent on killing her. As she screams for help, the man dies of a heart attack just like Kira's victims. A second Death Note lands beside her.
In his production notes, director Shūsuke Kaneko explained his desire to convince audiences that, while the killing of bad humans may seem to be fair, it underestimates the corrupting influence of wielding such power (the manga series follows a very similar viewpoint). Kaneko also commented that the psychological fear of dying could be "more nightmarish than Kaiju (monsters) destroying cities and killing people".
Kaneko also stated that he wanted the film to "focus on psychological pain", explain how the deaths occur, and explain how younger people would begin to like Kira. He also removed many of the interior monologues prominent in the manga and anime to allow audiences to develop their own ideas about the characters' thoughts and beliefs, while allowing "dramatic tension".
Kaneko said that the most difficult portion of the manga to film was the scene when the investigation begins and the authorities conclude that a person is responsible for the killing of criminals. He chose to add a scene in which L explains his logic via his laptop in order to make the film "more believable" and "excite people" for the coming struggle between L and Light.
Kaneko indicated mixed feelings while directing the movie. He said that he felt "a little reservation" at how the movie would perform, since the film "uses 'death' to entertain the audience" and feels "morally unsettling". Kaneko theorized that the film may have performed well because of the Internet culture of Japan, saying that the use of the Death Note had similarities to how users attacked one another on message boards and blogs. In addition, Kaneko noted that death is "carefully" concealed, to the point where "people don't even think about it".
The owner of the Death Note copyright required Kaneko to not change any of the rules of the Death Note, and as the film was developed, new rules of the Death Note were added in the original manga. Kaneko described adhering to this condition as the most difficult aspect of making the film.
Kaneko chartered an underground line to film a particular scene in the first film; this was the first time in Japanese film history that an underground line was used. Kaneko used about 500 extras throughout the first film.
Death Note (死亡筆記) was released in Hong Kong on August 10, 2006, in Taiwan on September 8, 2006, in Singapore on October 19, 2006, and in Malaysia on November 9, 2006, with English and Chinese subtitles. The world premiere was in the UA Langham Place cinema in Hong Kong on October 28, 2006, the first Japanese movie to premiere in Hong Kong. The film ended up earning US$23 million in Japan, $1.9 million in Hong Kong. The film was released in the UK on April 25, 2008.
North American release
The first movie briefly played in certain North American theaters on May 20–21, 2008. The theatrical version featured actors from the English dub of the anime voicing over their respective characters with a few notable recasts, including Ted Cole as Lind L. Tailor's voice (dubbed in the anime by John Murphy), Ron Halder as Watari's voice (dubbed in the anime by French Tickner), Nicole Oliver as Naomi Misora's voice (dubbed in the anime by Tabitha St. Germain), and Michael Dobson as Rem's voice (dubbed in the anime by Colleen Wheeler). The film was broadcast in Canadian theaters for one night only on September 15, 2008. The DVD was released on September 16, 2008, one day after the Canadian showing.
Death Note, Death Note: The Last Name, and L: Change the World were all licensed for UK release by 4Digital Asia, a sublabel of 4Digital Media, formerly Ilc Entertainment. The first title was the inaugural release in this new sublabel, launched in 2008 to fill the gap in the UK for "Asia Extreme" titles created by the demise of Tartan. All have received limited theatrical screenings at arthouse venues around the UK, such as the ICA Cinema in central London. All three have received DVD releases in limited editions, featuring two discs in hardback-book-like packaging, mimicking the item of the title. Regular single-disc editions are replacing the limited ones for long-term release. A dedicated website focused on the franchise was also created for public use. Both films were also broadcast on Film4.
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- Company website: http://www.4digitalmedia.com/
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