Japan's 'Fake Beethoven' to star in documentary

This file picture shows Mamoru Samuragochi, dubbed "Japan's Beethoven", at a press conference in Tokyo on March 7, 2014. He is set to star in a documentary film about his charade, a report says on Thursday. -- PHOTO: AFP 
This file picture shows Mamoru Samuragochi, dubbed "Japan's Beethoven", at a press conference in Tokyo on March 7, 2014. He is set to star in a documentary film about his charade, a report says on Thursday. -- PHOTO: AFP 

TOKYO (AFP) - A fraudulent composer once dubbed as "Japan's Beethoven", but who was neither deaf nor especially musical, is set to star in a documentary film about his charade, a report said on Thursday.

Mr Mamoru Samuragochi rocketed to fame in the 1990s with classical compositions that provided the soundtrack to video games including Resident Evil, claiming then to have a degenerative condition that affected his hearing.

His story proved irresistible for Japan's media, which lapped up the tale of a tortured genius battling a crippling condition to produce Symphony No. 1, Hiroshima, a mournful tribute to those killed in the 1945 atomic bombing of the city.

In 2013, he was the subject of a major documentary aired by state broadcaster NHK, which showed the musician touring the tsunami-battered north-east of Japan to meet survivors and those who lost relatives in the 2011 catastrophe.

But Mr Samuragochi was forced to come clean last year after his ghost writer emerged from the shadows to claim the mock maestro did not suffer from hearing loss - and couldn't even write sheet music.

Samuragochi abandoned his trademark sunglasses, cut his long hair and smartened up his clothes to offer an abject apology at a press conference, but the damage was done and his name remained a byword for dishonesty.

Now the one-time musical hero is looking to rehabilitate his shattered image by playing himself in a documentary-style film due for release next year, the Nikkan Sports daily said.

The movie, for which filming is already under way, is being directed by Tatsuya Mori, known for a documentary on the apocalyptic cult that carried out a fatal nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway system.

A television broadcaster said it had spoken to Mr Samuragochi's lawyer, who confirmed his client was taking part in the film.

Since the story of Mr Samuragochi's fraudulence broke, the ghost writer, Mr Takashi Niigaki, has enjoyed modest success and has appeared on a number of television programmes.