segunda-feira, 11 de maio de 2009

About Death by Hanging

(Koshikei, 1968)
By Nagisa Oshima

An artist does not build his work on one single theme, any more than a man lives his life according to only one idea. Foolish critics, however, want to think that works have just one theme running through them. Then when they find something that contradicts that one theme, they immediately say that they don't understand the work. Our work has nothing to do with these foolish critics. We want to put into it everything we are thinking and experiencing now. If we didn't, creative work would have no meaning for us. Of course, that also applies to Death by Hanging.
It is true, however, that Death by Hanging had as its starting point the events set in motion by the criminal Ri Chin'u, perpetrator of the Komatsugawa High School incident. In my opinion, Ri Chin'u was the most intelligent and sensitive youth produced by postwar Japan, as demonstrated by the collection of Ri's letters edited by Boku Junan, Punishment, Death and Love. Ri's prose ought to be included in high school textbooks. Ri, however, commited a crime and was setenced to the death penalty.
I had been thinking of devoting a work to Ri ever since he committed his crime in 1958. I wrote one script in 1963, the year after the execution. During that period I continued to depict the Korean problem in The Forgotten Imperial Army, A Tombstone to Youth, The Diary of Yunbogi, Sing a Song of Sex. I further explored the problem of crime more and more deeply in nearly all my work. Needless to say, both crime and the Korean problem are ultimately national concerns.
The two contexts in which the nation believes it is permissible to kill people are the death penalty and war. We say no to the death penalty and to war. We object strenuosly to their existence. However, our objections will carry no weight unless articulated by an ideological level that transcends the nation. Based on Ri Chin'u, who came close to achieving that, we created R, a character who did not die after execution.
The character R - and the work Death by Hanging - owe a great deal to the strenght of the countless people who are interested in Ri Chin'u. Another way to express this is to say that I am indebted to the strenght of all who have a deep interest in the Japan-Korea relationship - even if those people represent a whole range of opinions. Also, our ability to construct a realistic execution site and to realistically depict execution is due to the good offices of Mukae Yoshiteru and others in the penitentiary system. We would like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to them.
Based on this solid foundation, the scriptwriter, location crew, actors, and everyone else once again participated in the making of the film from the beginning. Recently film productions dependent on the Art Theater (1) have been in the news, but we pride ourselves strongly on the fact that the original method that we have been carving out for ourselves for some years is now coming to fruition. Matsuda, Adachi and Ishido offered their generous, joyful participation in work outside their true occupations. I don't know how to express my gratitude to them for their generosity.
I will continue to engage in bold film production with my fellow Guevaras, there is no doubt that Death by Hanging is one of our milestones.

(Film Scripts of Oshima Nagisa, 1968)

1. A company engaged in producing, importing and distributing films, established in 1961. (for more information see here)

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