The Contestant (2023) Movie Script

[tense, solemn music playing]
If you put what we're about to show you
in a movie,
I doubt anybody would believe it.
Centers on a man trying to win
his way out of a tiny apartment.
[Charles Gibson] Surviving just on
the prizes from magazine sweepstakes.
It's the hit of the season.
Every week, more than
30 million people tune in
to watch some young hopeful
enjoy intense hardship.
Japan's latest human experiment
in popular television.
[speaks Japanese]
[audience laughter]
The producers say,
he doesn't even know he's on television.
He could leave at any time.
The door isn't locked.
[reporter] His delight at winning
is apparently genuine.
Even if it's dog food
or something inedible.
We're trying to show the most basic
primitive form of human being.
[audience laughter]
[device beeps]
[audience laughter]
["Way Out" by Miho Hatori playing]
How many days?
How many lies?
Oh, na, na, na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na
Is there a way out?
Is there a way out?
Is there a way out?

[song ends]
[tense music playing]

[birds chirping]
[pensive music playing]
[indistinct chatter]
[dramatic music playing]

[crowd clamoring]
[audience laughter]
[shouting in Japanese]
[speaking Japanese]
[show theme music playing]
[audience applause]
- [thrilling music playing]
- [contestants screaming]
[indistinct muttering]
The show has become hugely popular.
It's a show dedicated to putting
young people through endurance tests.
In the late 1990s,
I was the BBC Tokyo correspondent.
It just so happened that the BBC bureau
was in the same building
as the production company
that was making Denpa Shonen.
So it was kind of in the air,
the success of this program.
And all my Japanese colleagues
were watching it.
[light, ominous music playing]
Whenever the producer Tsuchiya
came into the room,
you knew something big was gonna happen.
[graphic beeps]
- [graphic beeps]
- [audience laughter]
It was a show where unknown people...
...could make their name and become
celebrities practically overnight.
It was astonishing.
- [dramatic theme music playing]
- [host speaking Japanese]
[static buzzes]
Prize competitions.
People pin all their hopes and dreams
on just one postcard.
But whether you win or lose
is in the lap of the gods.
Now at the end of the 20th century,
for the first time in human history,
a man will attempt to live
on competition prizes alone!
[wind gusting]
It's a snowy day in Tokyo
January 1998
somewhere in the city...
[host] What does Tsuchiya the producer
say to these expectant participants?
[host] Luck?
And then...
A lottery box is wheeled in.
Meticulous preparations
have been made for this audition.
But for these young hopefuls,
it is still shrouded in mystery.
[excited chatter]
Who is this lucky very man?
And this guy's face is...
He's excited, shocked, and happy
to have drawn the winning ticket.
[speaks Japanese]
[audience laughter]
- [audience laughter]
- [Nasubi laughs]
[group cheering, clapping]
He thinks he's used up all his luck.
He has no clue
that luck is the key to this challenge.
- [audience laughter]
- [gasps]
[audience laughter]
[audience laughter]
[host] Susunu! Denpa Shonen
Challenge Number 1
will be...
Denpa Shonen
A Life in Prizes.
[Juliet] At the time when there
were all these competitions in magazines,
usually, all it consisted of
was sending in
a postcard with your name
and address on.
Whether you would win or not
was in the hands of the gods.
Let's recap, there's a room
and inside the room, a table,
a pile of new postcards,
a ballpoint pen,
a telephone, a radio, a floor cushion,
an air conditioner
and lots of
the latest issues of magazines.
[thrilling music playing]
The challenge is to see whether someone
can survive on competition prizes alone.
Nasubi starts totally naked.
Using magazine and radio competitions,
he will diligently apply for prizes
by postcard and phone.
As Nasubi's wealth grows
and the room fills with prizes,
this program will bring you
weekly progress reports.
The ultimate goal is to win prizes
worth a total monetary value
of 1 million yen.
Only then will Nasubi's challenge
come to an end.
A life in prizes! Go!
[bell dings]
[audience laughter]
[cheering and applause]
[host] A diary!
[audience laughter]
[Nasubi] "I have had to embark
on this ludicrously absurd project
"and they have made me go naked.
[audience laughter]
But I'll just have to try to find
enjoyment in everyday."
[audience laughter]
[singing indistinctly]
He enjoys himself.
Nasubi was completely naked
so they had to cover up his genitalia
with something.
They started with a big black dot.
But Nasubi's name means eggplant
so they quickly switched that out
for an emoji in the shape of an eggplant.
- [thuds]
- [audience laughter]
[Juliet] Which, as years have gone by,
has now become
completely current parlance
in emoji for penis.
So th-that's probably
where it all started.
[audience laughter]
[audience applauds]
A total of 963 applications
and he has won...
[laughter, applause]
"My head is full of thoughts of food.
- [solemn music playing]
-"It doesn't matter what,
"but please let me win something.
I'm begging you."
[host] Nasubi is intently writing
his application postcards.
And then...
"I've done it! I've won something."
[door opens]
[speaker] Hey.
"Oh, that's cruel!
The gods and fate are too cruel!"
- [squeals]
- [audience laughter]
- [Nasubi laughs]
- [audience laughs]
What has he won?
[Nasubi] "It is 12 cartons of fiber jelly
made by Kibun food Chemifa."
[audience laughter]
- [exclaims]
- [audience laughs]
Could it be rice?
[sing-songy] Dun-dun-da-da
[host] It's rice!
[audience laughter]
Nasubi has noticed something.
"I don't have a saucepan.
"I've put some rice in the used
fiber jelly container.
"As an experiment I've soaked it
"in hot water from the tap
to see what happens.
"If I leave it overnight,
I just hope something will have
happened by the morning."
Well, was the experiment a success?!
- [loud chewing]
- [audience laughter]
[host] Next day...
[Nasubi] "I put the rice I'd soaked
in hot water near the gas ring
to see whether being next to the heat
would have an effect."
Three hours later.
[graphic dings]
And what's the result of this experiment?
- Oh!
- [audience laughter]
[audience laughter]
[audience exclaims]
Oh. Mm.
[audience] Whoa!
[host] Success!
[audience exclaims]
"Once again, the gods have lent Nasubi
a helping hand!"
[audience laughter]
"Normally my thoughts are
how to survive this ordeal.
"And I don't have enough nutrition going
to my brain to think of anything else.
"But recently my thoughts keep
wandering to the outside world.
[light, pensive music playing]
"Scenes of what it was like
to be an ordinary person.
"The smiling faces of my family.
"It hurts my heart to think of my parents
back in the countryside.
"I'm worried that my mom
is shedding tears.
Worrying about her shabby,
naked, idiotic son."
[host] Nasubi does this week's
winning dance with sake.
[audience applauds]
- Ooh, ooh, ooh!
- [audience laughter]
You just were rooting for him.
You were rooting for him
to, to make it to the end.
- [Nasubi humming]
- [audience laughter]
Nasubi. Nasubi. Nasubi. Nasubi...
Nasubi. Nasubi.
It's sake!
Boiled beans,
a Pokmon desk mat.
[audience laughter]
[Nasubi] "Esteemed rice, are you really
going to abandon me?"
- [graphic beeps]
- [audience laughter]
He's going to eat it!
[audience laughter]
[audience laughter, applause]
- [chuckles]
- [audience laughs, applauds]
[host] And then...
[audience laughter]
A miracle has happened.
- [speaks Japanese]
- [crunching]
- [barking]
- [audience laughs, applauds]
["New Wave Jacket" by Polysics playing]

[song fades out]
[tense music playing]
I'm proud of all the loot I've acquired
sitting behind me.
I concentrate on writing postcards
as if my life depends on it.
I see the shadowy figures of people
outside my window.
And hear the murmur of voices.
[tense sting]
I'm lonely.
I feel like I want to cry,
I'm so miserable.
Being alienated from
human contact for this long,
makes you absolutely
long for human warmth.
Nasubi. Nasubi. Nasubi...
...Nasubi. Nasubi. Nasubi...
[host] A globe.
A face pack.
This week's winning dance.
[Nasubi erratically singing]
[dramatic, tense music playing]
- [music stops]
- [Nasubi muttering]
"The excitement of holding one in my hand
was like holding the petal
of a forbidden flower."
"As I opened my mouth wide
and placed the potato chip inside,
"I lost all awareness of that moment.
"It was as if something in my body
had been released
and flown away."
Denpa Shonen had a pretty good audience
but this segment was totally different
than anything they had done before.
And people started talking about it,
and it gradually grew and grew.
And it became this sensation.
And it was one of the most successful
and popular shows in Japan at the time.
- [thundering applause]
- [intense music playing]
Reality TV was not yet a thing.
The Truman Show which was
that same sort of concept,
didn't come out till
later the same year.
And Big Brother was
a couple of years in the future.
Japanese television has always been famous
for its extreme programs
in which participants undergo
some very unusual acts of endurance.
Well now the most popular program
has come up with a really bizarre feature.
He has no food and he only wears clothes
when he's won enough
competitions to earn them.
[Nasubi] I'm cold.
[reporter 1] Another televised moment
in the life of Nasubi.
It's all part of a new phenomenon
which is called webcam.
[reporter 1] Nasubi does know he's
being filmed but he doesn't know why.
The audience aren't laughing at him.
They're laughing in sympathy.
[reporter 2] Every week,
more than 30 million people tune in.
[reporter 1] The highlights of Nasubi's
life are broadcast once a week.
The studio audience roar with laughter
at each new mishap or triumph.
When he reaches the target,
or he gives up, or goes crazy,
it's sure to be on TV.
[reporter 1] Videos of his life
and his diary are now bestsellers.
But not everyone in Japan is fascinated.
I think it's a rather bizarre
and grotesque program.
Younger people seemed to find it
funnier than older people.
People who had experienced hardship
in their own lives,
you know, people who'd lived through
the Second World War in Japan,
didn't think it was funny that he--
the only thing he had to eat
was uncooked rice or dog food.
[speaks Japanese]
[audience laughter]
[grand orchestral music playing]
This is the control room.
Fifty staff wearing special T-shirts
are working 24 hours a day.
Due to high user levels, we apologize
to those who had trouble connecting.
Protecting Nasubi's modesty
with an eggplant
is an unprecedented challenge
for live broadcast streaming.
Tensions can be high
with some near misses.
[ominous music playing]
[host] Tschuiya the producer
has entered Nasubi's room.
[audience laughter]
[laughter intensifies]
[host] And then...
[host] But...
He naps!
[birds chirping]
[solemn music playing]
Could it be a prize?
[Nasubi speaks Japanese, laughs]
Nasubi has a full checkup.
[solemn piano music playing]
According to the health report
later received...
Nasubi is deemed to be in good health.
[audience applause]
[tense music playing]
[Nasubi] I asked the doctor if he thought
it was dangerous to carry on.
He completely brushed it aside,
saying I was young.
But I keep losing more and more hair.
I really notice how much my body hurts.
[tense sting]
[tense sting]
Having lost all awareness
of days of the week,
my grip on reality cannot be relied upon.
For months,
my life has just been a struggle
between sanity and madness.
[taut, ominous music playing]
Nasubi. Nasubi. Nasubi...
Who am I? What am I doing?
What am I living for?
Maybe it's all over
and they're clearing up
and have forgotten about me.
Sometimes I wonder
if I'm even in Tokyo or in Japan.
Maybe I've been abducted by aliens.
[ominous music continues]
- [vocalizing]
- [audience laughter]
[audience laughter]
[graphic beeps]
What's the prize?
[audience cheering, applauds]
Two kilograms of rice is 750 yen.
Which means...
His total has reached 1,000,164 yen.
Which means!
He's reached his 1 million yen goal.
And his Life in Prizes is over!
[triumphant music plays]
That night
- Mr. Tsuchiya enters his room.
- [ominous music playing]
Take a look.
- [spark snaps]
- [audience gasps]
[Nasubi groans]
[audience laughter]
- [spark snaps]
- [Nasubi yelps]
[host] He's using them
to celebrate the goal.
But Nasubi doesn't seem to realize...
- [yelps]
- [audience laughter]
[audience laughter]
- [popper pops]
- [audience laughter]
[audience laughter]
[host] A Life in Prizes,
Nasubi reaches his goal!
- [fanfare music playing]
- [audience applause]
- [fanfare continues]
- [cheering and applause]
Oh! [chuckles]
- [host] His clothes are being returned!
- [fanfare music plays]

Wearing clothes, he travels by car.
Then he arrives... somewhere.
Then the producer...
removes the eye mask.
What does he see?
[Nasubi speaks Japanese]
[host] Nasubi gets a present of
Korean BBQ meat to celebrate his goal.
And a day in an amusement park.
["The Blue Danube Waltz"
by Johann Strauss II playing]
[host] The producer treats Nasubi
to a jar of kimchi.
[host] And then...
[audience exclaims]
[host] But then...
Ooh. [laughs]
[audience laughter]
[host] Nasubi's new challenge
starts now.
[tape rewinding]
[tense, dramatic music playing]
[host] A Life in Prizes in Korea, go!
[door shuts]
[both] Aaaah?!
[audience laughter]
[game show theme music playing]
["Electro-Shock Blues" by Eels playing]
Feelin' scared today
Write down: "I am ok"
- Woo, ooh
- Sticking around
For this shit
Ooh, ooh
Another day
Another day
Not another day
"I'm frantically staying alive
in this room.
"I never know what monsters
are lying ahead in wait for me.
it is not impossible that I might die."
He had to learn Korean
in order to survive.
There is no correlation between
being able to read Japanese
and being able to read Korean.
They are completely different languages.
It's unthinkable, really.
You are so cruel, Denpa Shonen.
I want to teach you a lesson.
This is my revelation.
- [graphic beeps]
- Everything starts from now.
I'm on my countdown to going home.
[energetic music playing]

[audience laughter]
eh... oh...

By the time Nasubi reached Korea,
he really knew how to
win these competitions.
So he, sort of, gamed the system
and was beating the producers
at their own game.
But he still didn't know that he was
well-known across Japan.
[host] So then,
his goal changes to first class.
Which means...
his new goal is 81,600 yen.
Which means...
to reach his goal he still needs
33,800 yen.
You can do it, Nasubi!
[energetic music continues]
He's gone past his goal of 81,600 yen.
But then...
Yikes! He's noticed!
[tense music playing]
[items clatter]
And then the producer says...
[audience laughter]
The producer leads Nasubi off.
[tense music playing]
[footsteps approaching]
[Nasubi exhales sharply]
[silence, footsteps echoing]
[Nasubi] Ah...
[Nasubi sighs]
Oh! No, no, no! Ooh!
- [walls thud]
- [Nasubi shrieks]
- [shrieks]
- [audience laughs]
[cheering and applause]
[triumphant music playing]
[cheering and applause continue]
[shouting and cheering]
[distant audience laughter]
[audience laughs]
[audience laughs]
[audience laughs]
[audience laughs]
[cheering and applause]
- [co-hosts] Yay!
- [audience applauds]
[audience laughs]
[co-host 1] Hm.
[audience laughs]
[audience laughs]
[host] And the diaries in which Nasubi
got everything off his chest...
Four volumes were made
from the Japan series.
And one volume from Korea.
So far, 800,000 copies have been sold.
They've become best sellers.
I was invited to take part in
the press conference,
that they called it.
It was actually an audience show.
They didn't know what I was gonna ask.
I wanted to ask a provocative question.
[laughter and applause]
[host] And that brings us to the end of
Denpa Shonen's Naked Special .
- [triumphant music playing]
- [applause]
["Big in Japan" by Ane Brun playing]
Winter's city side
Crystal bits of snowflakes
All around my head and in the wind
I had no illusions
That I'd ever find a glimpse of
Summer heatwaves in your eyes
You did what you did to me
Now it's history, I see
Here's my comeback on the road again
Things will happen while they can
I will wait here for my man tonight
It's easy when you're big in Japan
When you're big in Japan
Big in Japan
Be tight
Big in Japan
Big in Japan
[indistinct chatter]
[solemn music playing]
[indistinct chatter]
[solemn music continues]
[camera shutter snaps]
[indistinct chatter]
[shutter snaps]
[family chattering]
[audience cheering]
[cheering and applause]
[crowd cheering]
[taut, solemn music playing]
For those of you that are just tuning in,
a major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9
has hit Japan.
In the, uh, Japanese seismic scale,
that is the maximum from 0 to 7.
[reporter] The Meteorological Agency
is issuing a tsunami warning
for Japan's Pacific coast.
[intense dramatic music playing]

The nuclear crisis
at the Fukushima plant today,
a second explosion in one of the reactors.
[tense music playing]
[music fades out]
[both speaking Japanese]
[light music playing]
Hi, namaste!
[tense music playing]
[wind rustling]
- [debris clatters]
- [indistinct shouting]
[reporter] Breaking news this morning
of a strong earthquake
measuring around about 7.5
hitting Nepal.
[loud rumbling]
[panicked chatter]
- [tumbling]
- [screaming]
[rumbling continues]
[muffled chatter]
[heavy breathing]
[solemn music playing]

[audience applause]
[speaking Japanese]
[speaking Japanese]
[dramatic music playing]
[tense sting]
- [tense music playing]
- [wind blowing]
[tense sting]
[ladder rattles]
[wind howling]
[tense, dramatic music playing]
[indistinct chatter]
[inspiring music playing]

[dramatic crescendo]
["There will be love there"
by The Brilliant Green playing]
[singing in Japanese]
I believe
Love that's waiting for me
Love that's waiting for you
[singing in Japanese]
Yeah, I believe
Love that's waiting for me
Love that's waiting for you
[singing in Japanese]
There will be love there
There will be love there
[singing in Japanese]
[song fades out]