A dreamlike new film for Gucci stars an AI-equipped humanoid robot

Kaguya by Gucci could easily be a descendant of a Michel Gondry or Leos Carax number – it even features its own operatic humanoid star, just like the latter’s child puppet in last year’s Annette. But, the new five-minute film, made to celebrate the ​​75th anniversary of Gucci’s bamboo bags using a Heian period folktale about a besotted bamboo cutter, is in fact directed by filmmaker Makoto Nagahisa. And rather than relying on puppetry to bring a sense of the brilliantly bizarre, Nagahisa’s film features the humanoid robot Alter4.
With Toshihiko Tanabe behind the film’s creative concept, Kaguya by Gucci reimagines Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter) in modern-day Tokyo. The film, just as in the original story, follows a celestial princess named Kaguya who is found on Earth by a bamboo cutter inside a glowing plant.
Alter4 is the long-time creative partner of Keiichiro Shibuya, the Tokyo-based composer who soundtracks and stars in the film. In the short, Alter4 is seen dancing with its human co-stars in a rose-walled bar, singing along to Shibuya’s playing – by blending machine learning with classical music, the robot is able to sing along to the composer’s piano improvisations without scores in real-time. Keiichiro explains: “Collaborating on projects with the android allows for new discoveries every time. In this film, Alter4 acts as a ‘kyogen-mawashi’, or storyteller. In traditional forms of Japanese performance art such as noh and kabuki, this role appears on stage minimally but plays a vital role. I think the inclusion of an android kyogen-mawashi who narrates by singing elevates the film’s distinct take on this ancient folklore to the level of a contemporary opera.”

Posted by Contributor