Powerfully Beautiful, Inexplicably Sensual and Intellectually Provocative
I can't say I'm a fan of Takashi Miike. Actually I watched his "Audition," and it gave me such creeps. The story was intriguing, but I couldn't stand the gore and spookiness of the scenes. When I saw the poster of "Ichi the Killer" I said, "Forget about it." I put his name under 'must-avoid-if-I-can' director category.
But the poster of "Big Bang Love" was quite eye catching. The body of a beautiful man covered with tattoo captured my interest strongly enough to visit it at the theater. And it took me totally by surprise. It was powerfully beautiful, inexplicably sensual and intellectually provocative.
The first scene features three generations of men: a boy, an old man, and a young father whose beautiful body is covered with ethnic pattern tattoo. I assume those tattoo patterns symbolize something about life and universe. This father dances. It's primitive yet sophisticated dance. It's not the type of dance that attracts a mate. It's the dance that brings out something within and throws it out to the world - world of emptiness...
After the dance, we move to a prison located out of nowhere. But it turns out that this nowhere is everywhere. It's where the past meet the future, religion confronts science, and hope collides with despair. Rocket and Pyramid are powerful symbols that express all those conflicting ideas. Rocket will lead us to Space, which is unknown nothingness while Pyramid will lead us to Heaven, which is hopeful solution to human misery. Here, Heaven and Hell are not the concepts at the opposite of one spectrum. Life is Hell, so Heaven's alternative becomes Space. Otherwise, there's no choice in afterlife, even though it may be true.
Two main characters are also in radical contrast. Ariyoshi and Kazuki are the same and the opposite. Ariyoshi seems fragile and passive, but it's just because he wasn't given the chance to act out. We know from the very beginning that he was imprisoned for murder. He murdered a man and murdered his own innocence. He yearns for love, but how can he after what he's done and what the world has done to him? Kazuki seems tough and aggressive. He always acts out before a thought enters his mind. But his heart is full of pain and his mind is full of fear. Death is the only comfort for him. He'd rather take a rocket then a pyramid. Heaven is the extension of this gruesome world, but Space... we can completely lose ourselves in the space. We're nothing but a tiny fraction of this vast unknown-ness. That devastating factor is a comfort to many.
Miike kept all the gruesome acts off screen. The physical fights were very raw, dynamic and beautiful. The sets were also very fascinating. The walk to the jail cell reminded me of the sets of "Dogville." The pentagon shaped cell and its pattern on the floor were very impressive. Where Kazuki died is like the ancient podium on which a victim was presented to God. So his death is lead to rebirth, but that rebirth defies God and soars to the emptiness of Space.
I couldn't quite sleep after movie, recapturing some of the images of the movie. I can't wait for DVD so that I can revisit the scenes again and again.