quinta-feira, 26 de fevereiro de 2009

To the friends and collaborators on "Japanese Summer: Double Suicide"

(Muri Shinju: Nihon no Natsu, 1967)
By Nagisa Oshima

Having completed Sing a Song of Sex, we are rushing headlong into the film entitled Japanese Summer: Double Suicide. We have the original script in front of us right now. In addition to the names of the three people on it - Tamura Takeshi, Sasaki Mamoru (1) , and Oshima Nagisa - the opinions of Nakajima Masayuki (2), Toda Shigemasa, Nishizaki Hideo (3), and Watanabe Fumio have also been incorporated.
Our films are usually films of premonition. We take a lot of our material from the past and present; however, we don't use it to explain the past or present. We take material from the past and present only when it gives rise to our images of the future. At such times, the material already transcends its significance as material, becoming our images and projecting certain premonitions about the future to those who see the film. Thus, we are now trying to make exclusively premonitory films, and we consider all other films meaningless.
Because those of us who are making these films naturally share common premonitions, we depart from a common starting point. Thus, we don't need to include the slightest explanation in the script for ourselves. However, there are many people who think of films exclusively as explanations of the past and present. For these people, it is predictable that this time, too, there will be many misunderstandings. We have already come too far. But we have to go even farther. We don't want to distance that separates us to increase. We could take a break until they come closer to us, but we think that now is not the time to rest. As we continue to run, we think that giving them a bit of a hint in advance about our films would help to keep any increase in the diastance between us to a minimum.
We believe that in our current film Japanese Summer: Double Suicide, misunderstandings are most likely to arise regarding the character Otoko.
Otoko is a person who suddenly gets the idea that he is going to die or be killed. Therefore he comes unnaturally sensitive to everything related to death and is moved only by those things. Being moved means not only being frightened: the things that move him also include the things that excite him.
One instance of this occurs in the context of his confrontation with Nejiko. Some may believe that Nejiko, who always wants to make love, is a symbol of life, and Otoko, who has a premonition that he is going to be killed, is a symbol of death. This is mistaken. Wanting to make love all the time is obviously evidence of life, but we were definitely not neglecting to point out that death soon comes into play where there is such strong evidence of life. Even more important than that, Otoko's premonitions of being killed (as a phenomenon, they take the form of a kind of delusion) are also evidence of life; in no way is this a sickness that can end in death. Otoko definitely does not want to die. He wants to live, and that is precisely why he has premonitions of death. In other words, in instances where Otoko appears at a glance to want to die, he actually wants to live, and that is beautiful -more so than Nekijo's straightforward desire to live. In this way, the two embrace two things that have something basic in common, and they are attracted to each other because it is manifested in polar opposite forms. It is absolutely incorrect to judge this work as a diagram that reads: Nekijo = Life, Otoko = Death.
The second instance of possible misunderstanding is in the context of the confrontation of the characters with television, toys, ogres and so on. When we said that we were thinking of making a film on the subject of double suicide, the two critics who are our closest friends laughed, saying, "Oh, you guys are finally going to try to draw us into a double suicide." Part of this statement was correct, but part was mistaken. The premonition that someone is making someone commit double suicide is correct. But that someone isn't us. We aren't the ones saying, "Let's commit double suicide." We ourselves have the premonition that someone is making us commit double suicide. That is precisely why we tried to create a character like Otoko, who has never before appeared in a film. Accordingly, Otoko doesn't take the initiative regarding his own death. Other people do take the initiative: some from intrinsic thoughts of symbols of death such as television, toys and demons. Some, by thinking that they are living or that they want to live, head in the direction of life's opposite -death. Others start the march toward death because they lack an awareness of their own situation. Moreover, they never march together; they go forward while strugling with each other. Because of his premonitions, Otoko is dragged along: he also stands in the way at the front. Or he is dragged along while standing in the way. Without a single premonition, Nejiko is the reverse of Otoko and ends up sharing his destiny. The positions of Otoko and Nejiko in relation to television, toys, ogres and other things must not be reversed. However, having given you a basic diagram so that you can understand, I will stop there; naturally, though, merely pointing it out has no meaning whatsoever. We must concentrate all our energies on how obscurely, intricately, and, above all, how beautifully we can mold these characters, not on how easily we can communicate their outlines.
For those of us who have set out thinking this way, it is the details that are at stake. Because we are all professionals in the positive sense of the word, our usual practice is to respect the independence of each department regarding details. This time we believe it is desirable to interfere with each other while respecting each other's independence. Our new slogan at this time is mutual interference even in details.
I believe total interference to be especially essential with respect to our actor friends, who constitute the point of intensity of expression. This time our actor friends must, above all, be a presence. The following words of Fukazawa Shichiro (4) articulate an efficient way of achieving this:

Be expressionless.
Move sluggishly.
Have no emotion, only sensation.

These orders given by Fukazawa regarding a film with young people as its protagonists conforms nicely with what has come to be our objective.
How can we go far beyond naturalism and still permit each existence to stand on its own? To what extent can time pass subjectively, or stop? Can our premonition expressed clearly as a framework in our script, take root as a film? Our work from now on, which will decide this, can be boiled down to these two points.

(United News Service, April 20, 1967)

1. A scriptwriter who began working in the late 1960's with Oshima, Sasaki Mamoru's credits include Sing a Song of sex (Nihon shunka ko, 1967), Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (Muri Shinju: Nihon no Natsu, 1967), Three Resurrected Drunkards (Kaettekita Yopparai, 1968), Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (Shinjuku dorobo no nikki, 1968), The Man Who left his will on film (Tokyo Senso Sengo Hiwa, 1970), The Ceremony (Gishiki, 1971) and Dear Summer Sister (Natsu no Imoto, 1972). He is now a very popular television writter.
2. A noted producer of independent film and TV productions, Nakajima Masayuki was first recruited by the Shochiku Company in 1940. Drafted into the army in 1944, he was repatriated out of China in 1947 and began a career as an independent producer in 1949. He founded his own Palace Film Productions in 1961 and produced Oshima's The Catch (Shiiku, 1961) immediately after Oshima's establishment of Sozosha. He then worked as a contract producer with Sozosha for a number of Oshima films: Pleasures of the Flesh (Etsuraku, 1965), Violence at Noon (Hakuchu no Torima, 1966), Sing a Song of Sex (Nihon Shunka ko, 1967), Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (Muri Shinju: Nihon no Natsu, 1967), Death by Hanging (Koshikei, 1968), Three Resurrected Drunkards (Kaettekita Yopparai, 1968), Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (Shinjuku dorobo no nikki, 1968) and Boy (Shonen, 1969). His collaborations with other directors includes She and He (Kanojo to Kare, 1963) by Hani Susumu, Pale Flower (Kawaita Hana, 1964) by Shinoda Masahiro, Silence has no Wings (Tobenai Chinmoku, 1966) and Evil Spirits of Japan (Nihon no Akuryo, 1969) both by Kuroki Kazuo and Clouds at Sunset (Akanegumo, 1967) and Double Suicide (Shinju: Ten no Amijima, 1969) both directed by Shinoda Masahiro.
3. A sound engineer who collaborated with Oshima in Pleasures of the Flesh (Etsuraku, 1965), Violence at Noon (Hakuchu no Torima, 1966) Sing a Song of sex (Nihon shunka ko, 1967), Manual of Ninja Martial Arts (Ninja bungei-cho, 1967), Japanese Summer: Double SuicideDeath by Hanging (Koshikei, 1968) Three Resurrected Drunkards (Kaettekita Yopparai, 1968), Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (Shinjuku dorobo no nikki, 1968), The Man Who left his will on film (Tokyo Senso Sengo Hiwa, 1970) and The Ceremony (Gishiki, 1971).
(Muri Shinju: Nihon no Natsu, 1967),
4. A novelist and essayst whose novels have been adapted for films: Wifeless Younger Brothers of the Northeast (Tohuko no Jimmutachi, 1957) by Ichikawa Kon, The Ballad of Narayama (Narayama Bushiko, 1958) and The Fuefuki River (Fuefuki Gawa, 1960) both by Kinoshita Keisuke. His novella Tale of Tasteful Dream (Hurryu Muran, 1960) appeared in a monthly magazine, Chuokoron, in the midst of the political turmoil of 1960. The novella has a dream sequence in which the severed head of the emperor trumbles to the floor. This infuriated ultra-rightists, who dispatched an assassin to the home of the publishing company's director. Although the director was not at home, his wife was murdered and a maid injured. The incident drove Fukazawa from Tokyo to the countryside, where he led a quiet life as a farmer, writer, and guitarist until his death.

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