18 November 2015 | mevmijaumau
Farewell to the Ark (1984)
Farewell to the Ark is the final film directed by the legendary Japanese counter-culture artist Shuji Terayama, who died of illness after finishing it, meaning that the film was released posthumously, the following year. The movie is loosely based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez' novel 100 Years of Solitude (on which Terayama already based one of his most obscure films, which shares the title of the book). It's not a full-blooded adaptation though, more of a partial one, with many motifs and themes coming straight from Terayama's psyche.
Terayama's personal symbolism is present throughout the film (as it is in his other works), most prominently clocks that symbolize rural traditions and superstitions (among other things, I suppose). The film follows a woman in love with her cousin. Their attempts at making love are thwarted by her chastity belt installed by her father. Meanwhile, the other villagers gradually leave behind their old ways and head for the city instead. Over the two-hour runtime, Terayama explores superstition, guilt, regret, tradition, sexuality, parting with old ways and reminiscing of lost time. This is a very puzzling film, open to many interpretations and prone to re-watches. The many intertwining sub-plots and sub-themes are here both to enrich it and to make it inaccessible. Unfortunately, there's so much going on that it suffocates the story and makes the viewing experience confusing. However, it does have that old Terayama-ish charm.
The soundtrack is not as memorable as in other Terayama films, but the visual design is still true to his style. The green filters, characters wearing bright red clothing, caricatural villagers, black and white inserts, unusual natural locations and peculiar color work in general all make the film worth watching if you're interested in cinematography.