American celebrities popped up in a lot of Japanese ads in the 1980s and the results were, well, see for yourself.
In the first clip below, Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa and American director Francis Ford Coppola look weary and vacant while peddling Suntory Reserve. The bizarre ad intercuts footage of the making of Kurosawa’s 1980 epic “Kagemusha.” And after a long day’s shoot, Kurosawa impassively enjoys a glass of whiskey. Because “passion knows no limits.” Coppola doesn’t have much to do here. But events in his daughter Sofia’s 2003 film “Lost in Translation” now come into sharp focus: that’s the same whiskey brand that Bill Murray sells, blandly reciting “Suntory time!” while trying to keep a straight face.
In the surreal second ad for a Japanese department store, Woody Allen awkwardly endures a strange sequence of calligraphy, acupuncture and whatever else. He looks sad and lost. It’s not quite clear what this commercial is trying to sell, and Allen’s hilarious discomfort isn’t selling it either. (Think of Bill Murray’s nervous amusement in this scene from “Lost in Translation.”)
Anyway, here they are.