1 February 2015 | mevmijaumau
Grass Labyrinth (1983)
A near-masterpiece from the legendary Japanese avant-garde artist Shuji Terayama, 40 minutes long and originally included in a French movie package Private Collections, the other two films of which were directed by Walerian Borowczyk and Just Jaeckin. Grass Labyrinth, apart from featuring cult comedy director Juzo Itami in a small role, is also blessed with J. A. Saezer's lullabyish soundtrack which sometimes also consists of heartbeats played along with a recording of someone breathing.
Grass Labyrinth is, like most of Terayama's works, self-reflective and filled with many references to his childhood. Leitmotifs from his other films are present here as well, such as windmills, bridal headdresses worn by his overprotective mother, the attractive/nymphomaniac neighboring girl whom the protagonist's mother forbids him to see, Oedipal complex, the father who's also a naval officer, circus freaks, the protagonist getting forcefully "seduced" by a woman, etc. It has the most similarities to his movie Pastoral: To Die in the Country, so I guess you could call this one Pastoral 2.0.
The protagonist in this movie travels the land to find the lyrics to a lullaby his mother may have sang to him. Of course, knowing Terayama, this journey becomes a psycho-sexual, surreal voyage through space and time filled with eroticism, symbolism and strange landscapes. All of this culminates in the final, adrenaline-ridden scene where the hero faces off against aforementioned freaks.
Grass Labyrinth is ultimately a movie with some unforgettable imagery; round "pregnancy stones" which turn sterile women fertile, a man fondling a naked woman with a calligraphed body on a seashore, the hero watching children play in a barren desert. I'd call it a film of its kind, but Terayama can produce much weirder stuff, so this is where I end things.