23 September 2020 | gorimlongbeard
Strong anti war message in a 3 hour cut up movie
A japanese cinema opens one last night and shows japanese war movies all night. Various villagers come and watch. A girl (Noriko) doesn't know about war and wants to find out by going directly into the films.
3 men (a yakuza wannabe/monk, a film critic, and the girls lover) follow her to rescue her from various dangers, the girl being present in different incarnations within the movies. The four encounter various battles of japanese history starting from the 1860s with the fall of the samurai and ending with the bombing of Hiroshima, making friends and enemies on their way.
First I have to say despite this being Nobuhiko Ôbayashis last movie it was my first from him. I was told about his experimental roots beforehand and knew the anti war & movie topic. Still, this movie has a very special style. Instead of using actual old japanese war movies they get kind of rebuild. The first ones in 4:3 and b/w with intertitles before we head to talkies. Generally Ôbayashis choice in most of the scenes is to have two layers in it: the background & the characters, by choice badly cut in.
You get 3 hours of very fast paced dialoge, singing, a lot of cuts & repetitions, panels with poems, semi-documental scenes, overlays with facts/information in japanese, overlays of circles, etc.
Storywise, although its meandering style, it all concludes fine in the end & has a strong as well as important message. But still a very hard one to sit through.