Tag Archives: political cinema

The Childhood of a Leader: Interview with Bradley Corbet

The Childhood of a Leader

Seen at Venice International Film Festival, Venice (Italy)

Format: Cinema

Release date: 19 August 2016

Distributor: Metrodome

Director: Brady Corbet

Writers: Brady Corbet, Mona Fastvold

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Stacy Martin, Liam Cunningham

UK, France, Hungary 2015

115 mins

The actor-turned-director talks about Scott Walker, politics in cinema and the dilemma of having a high standard in filmmaking.

Loosely based on the short story of the same name by Jean-Paul Sartre, Brady Corbet’s directorial debut The Childhood of a Leader might be best described as the sum of its parts: historical psychodrama, arthouse horror and period mystery all come together in this demanding but strangely compelling film, which draws its study of the rise of fascism out of an unruly young boy’s tantrums and power struggles as he moves with his parents from the United States to France at the end of World War I. Set against the background of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the 27-year-old American actor-turned-director has crafted a film that is every minute as relentlessly rich and mesmerising as the striking, full-volume orchestral score by the great Scott Walker that accompanies it.

Pamela Jahn caught up with Brady Corbet at the Venice Film Festival in September 2015 to talk about Scott Walker, poetic films about politics and the dilemma of having a high standard in filmmaking.

Pamela Jahn: Your film has been one of the most eagerly awaited debut features to come out this year – no pressure then?

Brady Corbet: I knew that it would be a love it or hate it movie. To tell you the truth, the divided reactions that I experienced were more in the process of putting the film together, because when you are making a movie like this, where there is no exact road map of what it is supposed to be, people get very nervous and shaky, because they are frightened of what the reaction is going to be. And it was hard for myself to anticipate how the audience would take it, but to my surprise, the reactions have all been pretty good. People have been very patient and receptive to it and I am feeling a lot more relaxed now. Also, the film is inherently a little bit of punk, because you open with classical instrumentation but it’s like they’re playing ACDC…

It is also a very loud film.

Yes, I like things really fucking loud and Scott Walker does, too, so it was sort of a request that everything is at maximum volume (laughs).

It’s an impressive film not only from a technical point of view but also in terms of its narrative and production value, especially given that, I believe, it was made for very little money?

I’ve been given instructions to not ever say the budget out loud, but you are right, it wasn’t much and a lot less than what I think it looks like, too. The first person who really made the movie seem possible, in both a physical and creative sense, was our production designer Jean-Vincent Puzos. He designed Amour for Michael Haneke, but he’s also designed video installations for Philippe Parreno or blockbusters for Roland Emmerich, so he’s worked with a 6000-dollar budget right up to a 49-million dollar budget, and I mean 49-million dollars just for his department, not the film. He really had the solution for every problem that arose and he realised that, because of the way we set out to make this movie, we were going to be extremely specific about what we were seeing and what we were not seeing, and that helped a lot. And frankly, the film was so unconventional in its structure: a UK, Hungarian, French and Belgium co-production with an American director and a Norwegian producer and writer… basically the movie was the fucking Paris Peace Conference, at least it was about as effective. The amount of miscommunication was just shocking, on a daily basis. We had contracts that had to be translated into three different languages, the closing of the finances, which usually takes three or four weeks, took like four or five months.

Where did the idea for the story come from?

Part of the idea was to talk about how everybody is responsible for the events that define the twentieth century, that there is a certain sense of culpability, and that partly goes back to Margaret MacMillan’s book Paris 1919, where she gives a very sober account of the events of the Peace Conference. Her book is infinitely more complex and academic and more intelligent and well-rounded than any movie on the subject could ever be, but we didn’t really set out to make a political film anyway, we set out to make a poetic film about politics. It’s interesting though, because historically speaking there already are a lot of poetic film about politics, everything from The Conformist to Saló, not just on the subject of fascism, but those are the ones that spring to mind right now. But weirdly, when we were trying to raise soft money for the project, we were told poetry and fantasy do not belong with history, and I found that really bizarre, because the thing is that history is always only a version of history anyway, it’s always a bit of fiction. And therefore there is a reason why a new book on Napoleon comes out every nine or ten years, and you wonder, what more could you have possibly learned in the last nine years to make it a new definitive account of the events, that the last guy who wrote a book on him didn’t know? It’s always a point of view. So, the fact that we were dealing with history, in a sense, never disturbed us from borrowing from a number of different events and sources and to sort of merge them into something that was original and cinematic.

Looking at your film on some level it almost feels like it could have been made in the 70s, though with a contemporary twist. Do you sometimes feel like you would have preferred to make films back then?

Not really, and I definitely don’t resent my era at all, because I am only 27, and so I think we are going to see a lot of amazing things over the course of the next 30, 40, 50 years… depending how long the universe decides to keep me around. But something that bugs me is that I see probably 200 movies in a year and I come out of my year talking about only five of them. There is a lot of content around these days, and images and films are more disposable than ever, and mediocrity is… it takes an awful lot to make a very good film, and it doesn’t happen very often any more. And of course I can only speak for myself and what I see, but I feel like something happened in the 90s, where a lack of ambition became really celebrated for some reason. It partly happened because of the digital revolution, I think, which first was genuinely exciting but now you are almost expected to do something anti-cinematic, just because you can. And the only reason that frustrates me is that somehow that very low standard in filmmaking has made it very difficult to have a very, very high standard. So I am not resentful of my era, I think right now I am just a little tired. Because you work so hard on something, and although you don’t need it to be accepted by everyone, you want to make sure that it doesn’t just go to the graveyard either, so you work even harder.

How tricky was it to get Scot Walker involved?

A lot less tricky than it was to raise money for the film, for sure. First, I didn’t think he would say yes, but we thought we would really try, because we thought it would be so appropriate given that he has written so many lyrics on the subject of tyranny in the twentieth century, and it’s a recurring theme in a lot of his music. Also because of the architecture of his avant-garde pop songs… and they really are pop songs in the way that it’s very easy to listen to them over and over again, despite them being abrasive and challenging. There is some kind of souterrainian [is this the right word?] melody in his music that keeps you coming back for more. I find everything about Scott Walker deeply inspiring but especially for this project. So we wrote a lot of letters, it was the same letter but we sent it to a lot of different sources, to make sure he would get it. And he did, and three days later he said yes. And I got this email which said, ‘Dear Brady’, and I kind of thought, oh, this is really nice that he made the effort to write this rejection letter himself. I was the most excited I’d ever been to get rejected. But then he said, ‘Great, I really look forward to working together’, and I was just really amazed. I mean I was 23 or 24-years-old at that point and I couldn’t really believe it. And as you know, it took years to finally get the film together, but he’s used to working on projects for a long time and so it all worked out in the end.

Interview by Pamela Jahn

Interview with Koji Wakamatsu

11.25: The Day He Chose HIs Own Fate

Director: Kôji Wakamatsu

Writer: Masayuki Kakegawa

Original title: 11-25 jiketsu no hi: Mishima Yukio to wakamono-tachi

Cast: Arata, Shinobu Terajima, Hideo Nakaizumi

Japan 2012

119 mins

‘If we value so highly the dignity of life, how can we not also value the dignity of death. No death may be called futile.’ – Yukio Mishima

In 11.25. The Day He Chose His Own Fate, one of his last completed films, the late Kôji Wakamatsu turned his attention to the final years of Japanese writer, critic and nationalist Yukio Mishima, who espoused traditional values based on the Bushido code. On 25 November 1970, Mishima, along with four members of his own private army – the Tatenokai – went to the Self Defence Forces headquarters in Tokyo, tied up the commander and took to the balcony to call upon the assembled military outside to overthrow their society and restore the powers of the Emperor. When he was jeered, he returned inside to commit suicide, leaving behind a set of controversial writings, including short stories, plays and novels, and a mystery that echoes to this day.

Pamela Jahn took part in a group interview with Kôôji Wakamatsu after the premiere of his film on Mishima at the 65th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in May, where the film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section, to find out more about Wakamatsu’s take on Mishima and the reasons behind his actions.

Question: What was your motivation for making the film?

Answer: I first thought about it when I was shooting United Red Army. There is one scene where the Red Army marches during a very strong blizzard and it was actually a real blizzard that we were facing at that time when making the film. The Red Army was a formation of left-wing extremists. But I knew that there were also right-wing activists, young people who wanted to change the society just as much, even at the cost of their own lives, like Mishima, who formed his private militia – the Tatenokai, or ‘Shield Society’. I felt that portraying only one side of the whole spectrum wouldn’t be sufficient and that I should depict both extremes and I decided to make a separate film about the Tatenokai. First it was just an innocent joke. I’d tell my actors on the set of United Red Army that my next project would be on the extreme right for a change. But I knew that making these films in a row would be rather hard on me, so in the middle, as a sort of easy play, I shot Caterpillar . Both films turned out to get a very good audience and attendance that provided enough money for 11:25, and also two other films, Petrel Hotel Blue and The Millennial Rapture.

Your last visit to Cannes was just over 40 years ago when Sex Jack was shown at the festival in 1971. How does it feel to be back here after so many years with yet another film that is highly politically charged?

It doesn’t have any special meaning or significance. The only special thing back then was that on the way back I went to Palestine to film a documentary [together with Masao Adachi], and because of that, I was labelled as terrorist and declared a persona non grata in the United States, Russia and other countries. And the Japanese government also questioned me quite severely 15 or 16 times. It that sense, it was quite a memorable visit.

Arata Iura, who plays Mishima in the film, is very well known in Japan. You don’t usually cast stars like him.

He also had a part in United Red Army and I thought he was very good in it. I got to know him as an extremely hard worker and somebody who’s able to deliver great performances with consistency. I’m the type of person who feels strong gratitude and obligation towards those who give me something. Arata was very well known already, but he agreed to do the job on my terms and follow my method. I asked him to come alone, without any manager or personal assistant. On my set I use no make-up artists, script girls or secretaries – he had to accept that. I had several people in mind for Mishima’s part, but I finally gave it to Arata. Looking at the film only reassures me that I made the right choice. I never cast stars to attract a bigger audience. To me it doesn’t matter if it’s someone as famous as Arata or an amateur. As long as you have a heart, you can act. If cinema was only about attracting audiences with star power, I wouldn’t be making films anymore.

Both films, 11:25 and United Red Army, show a deep sense of comradeship that is essential to the development of any revolutionary movement but also more generally speaking in Japanese culture.

To put it very simply, the Japanese culture is not individualistic. The focus is not on the individual but on the community. Whatever we do, we always consider our neighbours, family and friends. For example, if you’re making dinner and it turns out really delicious, it is natural to offer it to your neighbours, to share. These cultural differences between Japan and Europe or the United States may be rooted in religious concepts of Christianity and Buddhism and, therefore, some behaviours or rituals might be harder to comprehend for a viewer from outside of our culture.

The only female figure in this otherwise male-dominated film is Mishima’s wife. She’s spoken of rarely, appears in one scene and barely has one line. How do you see her character in the film?

I believe that the very consciousness of her existence was necessary for the film. During the research stage, when reading through all the materials and documents available, I found many proofs of her role and influence in the Tatenokai, even though she acted behind the scene. But for example, every time they went to a training camp, she would come along and give pep talks to the trainees. Also in the household, her presence was natural. In Japan, the wife’s position is behind her man, in the background. It would have been difficult to bring Mishima’s wife into the spotlight because she would never have stepped out. She’d support him silently, like she did. Again, that’s a cultural thing that be might more difficult to understand for Westerners.

Your name is inevitably associated with the pink film genre (pinku eiga) that first appeared in Japan in the early 1960s, but actually soon after it became popular you stopped making that kind of films.

I was the first director of pink cinema, and everybody else followed me and copied what I came up with. But their imitations were focused only on showing naked women, sex scenes and so forth. Soon after, pink cinema went down the drain and became the mainstream. There were so many pink films around that I didn’t feel it was interesting for me to continue that path. If you compare pink cinema from the time when I was active in that genre and contemporary pinku eiga, they are entirely different. All the directors who made pink films back then have disappeared with the exception of Mr Takita, who became very successful. His film Departures is known around the world. To others, pinku eiga was just an easy way to make money. They’re too scared to be anti-establishment. For me, making a film means to throw a stone at the establishment, and what happened to pink cinema is that it became conformist entertainment.

You are not only an influence on, but a mentor to, young Japanese filmmakers like Banmei Takahashi, for example. Is helping the new generation of filmmakers important to you?

It is true that many young filmmakers started their professional career on my set or thanks to my recommendation. But it was they who came to work for me in the first instance. Of course, I can help them, I can give some assistance or mental support. But the truth is, they are my competitors, or in other words, they are my enemies. But by creating my own enemies I become more enthusiastic. If one of them makes a really good film, that only makes me more passionate about it and drives my own motivation to be better. I think that the young directors in Japan today whom I mentored are my best, most inspiring competitors. In the mainstream I don’t see anyone I’d consider as such.

You are a very precise author, whose art is so particular, that sometimes it might come across as hermetic.

I think in Japan, and anywhere else in the world, there are many mysterious things. My work might sometimes seem difficult, but I am just doing what I do and I am just turning these mysteries in society, which are sometimes hard to understand, into images, into films. Each person is different, in terms of their looks but especially in terms of their thinking – there are no identical human beings. Take this bottle of water on the table in front of you, for example. It might seem just ordinary clear water to you, but there may be someone else who doesn’t perceive it in the same way, who might think it’s red. It’s not us longing to be each other’s clones, it’s the authorities, who try to make everyone as identical as possible.

You are an internationally acclaimed director but your position in Japan is still difficult, especially in terms of financing your projects.

The government does not recognise my films because in a way they rebuild the part of Japanese history they’d like to hide. My work is most problematic especially for the Cultural Agency. They hold the budget to subsidise filmmaking in Japan but they wouldn’t give any of it to me, even though I requested it many times. They’d rather fund films with far less value instead of mine, mainly because I am very straightforward and open with bureaucrats and I tell them what I think about them. But in any case, you couldn’t make a film about the United Red Army or Mishima with money from the government. They wouldn’t give a single yen for a film like that.

How do you feel about Mishima’s suicide?

People in Japan have been wondering about Mishima’s suicide for long after his death. The reactions in the public have been quite ambiguous. People talk about it according to their own imagination and equally I made the film based on my understanding and interpretation of the events. I think that Mishima had chosen the venue and time of his own death quite carefully – he died at 45. The date, the 25th of November, was also the date when one of his close friends from the University of Tokyo committed suicide. That friend was involved in a financial fraud; he couldn’t get out of it and felt so cornered and hopeless that he decided to take his own life by hanging himself.

Could you relate to his decision?

At that time, when it happened, I thought it was just stupid. I also had my reservations about his idea of creating an army of ‘toy soldiers’. I thought that Mishima, who was an accomplished writer and well-established citizen, eventually went insane. But as time passed and I went through many documents, including his writings about planning that event, my opinion started to change. I also sometimes drink sake with one of the surviving members of the Tatenokai and slowly my view changed: I came to think that actually he is a phenomenon in his own right. There are other films about him and about the Red Army, but the names have been changed. I refuse to do that, in my films I use their real names. People around me warned me that I’d be assassinated by the right-wing if I did that and I said, ‘Well, if they want to do that, that’s fine.’ But I met some of the people and I read a lot of material and I believe that I am showing both sides, the right and the left extremes of the spectrum, and that it’s a fair view on both sides. I am telling them both that they were trying to do something good, that they meant good for society, and that they shouldn’t be ashamed or live in hiding. And after I made those films, they actually thanked me for what I did. They came to see the films, they even helped selling tickets, and I think it’s because my intention is genuine.

Interview by Pamela Jahn

Koji Wakamatsu: From yakuza to pornographer

Red Crime

The following text from my book Behind the Pink Curtain (2008) forms the introduction to the chapters on Kôji Wakamatsu, Masao Adachi and the various other characters involved in Wakamatsu Pro. I should point out that this text was written over five years ago, before the premiere of Wakamatsu’s United Red Army (2007) at Tokyo Film Festival introduced a whole new generation of overseas viewers to the director’s startling and provocative work.

At the time, the films of Wakamatsu were little discussed in the West, particularly in the English language, and the context in which he operated virtually unknown. (There have been a number of retrospectives subsequently, particularly in France). Behind the Pink Curtain was my attempt to remedy this, and the whole project was largely inspired by my early encounters with the films of Wakamatsu, which have proved an enduring influence on me personally. He shall be sorely missed.

Kôji Wakamatsu is a difficult figure to place within the broad history of Japanese cinema. While his films screened at a number of festivals in mainland Europe in the late 60s and early 70s – which in itself is enough to distinguish him from his contemporaries in the eroduction world – the general climate and context in which they were made, along with those he produced for other directors through his company Wakamatsu Pro, was not one treated with much significance by many Western writers at the time. There were those in France, like No&#235l Burch and Max Tessier, who wrote seriously about those few Japanese erotic films that began to appear in Europe in the late 60s and 70s, and consequently it has been this country that has provided a home for two noteworthy retrospectives of Wakamatsu’s films with the director himself in attendance, at the 1998 L’Etrange Festival in Paris, and as part of a season entitled ‘Sex Is Politics’, in the town of Saint-Denis in 2006. But, clearly uncomfortable with the spectacle of sexual violence against women, English-language commentators seemed at a loss when it came to interpreting the new phenomenon of the 60s, either ignoring it or dismissing it out of hand. Few took time to engage with the films even on the level at which they were intended to be consumed. It’s a stance Donald Richie has maintained until this day, as is spelled out by this classic snub of Wakamatsu relayed in a 1990 entry from his journals, published in 2004: ‘He makes embarrassing soft-core psychodrama (or used to), and No&#235l Burch led the French into seeing great cinematic depths in Violated Angels. It occurs to no one that the reason for making it (nurses skinned alive) was noncinematic. So Kôji was treated as though his junk meant something.’

Junk or not, Wakamatsu’s films do mean something, or at the very least are representative of something. While in the Japanese film industry at large he may be better regarded more as a particularly canny producer than for the level of craftsmanship to be found in his films, even in the capacity of a director his early work is stylistically distinct enough to at least merit some consideration. At its best, it is direct and abrasive, seething with an infectious energy and electrifying zeitgeist, its stark power immediately appreciable, even if hidden deeper meanings prove maddeningly elusive. At the very least his films serve as socio-historical documents; not only visual testimonies to an era of new sexual frankness and a deep-rooted uncertainty in which oblivion seemed to lurk around the corner; the development of Wakamatsu’s oeuvre, along with that of his close friend and ally Masao Adachi, also runs parallel with the development of the student movement and the growth of the radical left wing. Those looking back at this turbulent period and trying to fathom just how extremist political groups like the Communist League Red Army Faction (Kyôsanshugisha d^ômei sekigun-ha) – hereafter referred simply as the Red Army Faction – and the closely related groups of the Japanese Red Army (JRA, or Nihon Sekigun) and the United Red Army (URA, or Rengo Sekigun) developed as they did might well find clues in titles like Sex Play (1969), Shinjuku Mad (1970), Ecstasy of the Angels (1972), and the infamous Red Army / PFLP: Declaration of World War (1971).

It is immediately clear to the modern viewer that there is something very unique about these films that sets them apart from run-of-the-mill softcore. Wakamatsu himself denies that he ever really made pinku eiga, and indeed, it would be difficult to describe much of the output of Wakamatsu Pro, especially those films made by Masao Adachi and Atsushi Yamatoya, as representing the typical face of the genre. ‘All in all you can say that our films were underground films with a sexy touch. At least, that’s how we saw them,’ Wakamatsu later claimed. The eroduction world just provided a distribution system for him and his collaborators to exploit, and they therefore needed to tailor the content of the works, to some extent, to fit its requirements. The Kôji Wakamatsu titles best known today seem to bear this out, though this is also due to the director himself owning the rights to the majority of the hundred or so films in his back catalogue, allowing him to be selective about which titles today find themselves most regularly screened and accessible on DVD. Wakamatsu will also concede that there were many films he made in his heyday that are no longer readily available that were, in his own words, ‘not very interesting’. His filmography is full of titles, such as White Man-Made Beauty (1966), Black Narcissus of Lust (1967), and Kama Sutra: Love Technique (1970), that were more directly intended for the sex film market, and made mainly to earn money to finance more adventurous, experimental or personal projects. He also proved more adept than most when it came to selling his films to foreign distributors.

How successful really was Wakamatsu then? According to the director himself: ‘My films fared pretty well. Troublesome were the films of Masao Adachi. Since nobody wanted to buy them, we added my name on the billboard and advertised them as joint productions.’ However, according to Daisuke Asakura, the president of Kokuei – the company that produced some of his earliest works – Wakamatsu Pro’s films, ‘weren’t too popular… which is understandable because the scripts were written by people like Masao Adachi and Atsushi Yamatoya. But I think Waka was the first “name value” in the world of pink films… in a sense, he’s the one who led the world of pink film.’ There are other benchmarks of success apart from commercial performance, and in many ways Wakamatsu can be described as the most significant figure to emerge from the eroduction field. Not only has his name been cited as an influence by successive generations of pink directors, but he has also achieved a unique level of crossover success during the time Wakamatsu Pro was active, with his films accepted by critics and intellectuals from outside the seijin eiga world, including such pivotal figures from the creative avant-garde as Shûji Terayama, Jûrô Kara, Nagisa Ôshima and the ATG producer Kinshirô Kuzui.

So how exactly did this bumpkin from a poor uneducated farming background in the north of Japan make the leap from the low-budget sex film market to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, play a pivotal role in the most prominent foreign co-production of the day, and wind up tangentially involved in the pro-Palestinian cause?

Wakamatsu’s rise to prominence is all the more remarkable when you take into account his humble roots. Born 1 April, 1936, in the small town of Wakuya in the rural Miyagi prefecture of the mountainous northern Tôhoku region, he was one of several sons of a farmer who specialised in horse breeding. His relationship with his father was turbulent, as it was with his teachers at school, and though naturally a bright student, he soon let his studies slip after discovering a channel for his energies playing baseball. After being thrown out of agricultural college due to a violent altercation with a fellow member of the judo club (who was later to become, somewhat ironically given Wakamatsu’s problematic relationship with figures of authority throughout his life, a police officer), at the age of seventeen he found himself, like so many of his generation, packing his bags and heading down to Tokyo in search of work.

Wakamatsu’s entry into the world of filmmaking was a convoluted process. After his initial arrival in the city, he worked in a variety of lowly positions, on construction sites, at a confectionery company making daifuku, and in a bar, before he somehow became involved in a local yakuza group. Soon, at the age of twenty-three, a brush with the law led to a six-month spell in Hachiôji prison. Wakamatsu emerged from the ordeal with an even deeper mistrust of authority and a resolve to tackle it in a more constructive fashion that wouldn’t end up with him behind bars for a second time. The most obvious solution was through fiction. After all, engaging in real-life crimes such as killing politicians, policemen and other such figures of repressive authority tends to land one in trouble; committing the same act as fantasy in prose or on film seemed a safer way of expressing feelings of dissatisfaction with the current state of society. Wakamatsu’s initial plan was to vent his spleen by writing a novel based on his life story so far, but not long into it he discovered that his early departure from the education system made this a trickier task than he’d first envisaged. Might his talents perhaps be better suited to a life in the movies?

It was then, and indeed still is now, a customary practice for film crews in Tokyo to ask permission from local yakuza groups rather than the police when it came to location shooting in a particular quarter. And so Wakamatsu’s first brush with the film world came through his old mafia connections, with him working as a scout in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, watching over the crew and standing nearby the shoot to indicate that they had mob approval. During this time he approached one of the television producers whom he was monitoring and asked to be taken on as an apprentice.

Within a very short time he was working as a director for Nihon TV, a route taken by many pink directors before embarking on their big-screen careers. As Wakamatsu tells it, his next step up the ladder was characteristically serendipitous. A huge row, after a last-minute order to change the script and all the cast members on a project he was then working on led to Wakamatsu attacking his producer with a chair and storming off set. Only briefly out of work, he received an out-of-the-blue phone call from an actors’ agent in a hurry to find a director for a new film project. What kind of film did they want made? ‘They gave me a free rein as long as it included some shots of women’s naked backs and some love scenes. At that time the label pinku eiga didn’t exist. The censorship exercised by Eirin was very severe, to the point where you couldn’t show pubic hair or women’s nipples: so you were obliged to film naked women from behind. I asked him if it was worth the bother, but he insisted.’ And so, in 1963, Wakamatsu came to direct his first theatrical work, entitled Sweet Trap.

Sweet Trap no longer exists in a viewable form. What appears to be his earliest film in existence, and his seventh as a director, (1964) tells the story of a podgy salesman named Mizushima (played by the actor Takuzô Kamiyama in his first and only leading role) who, when visiting the household of the Tsuchiya family, disturbs an assault on the lady of the house, Yûko (Daydream’s Kanako Michi), by her brother-in-law Toshio. Coming to her rescue, he nevertheless finds himself on the wrong side of the law when Yûko’s husband, an influential public prosecutor, frames him by giving false evidence in order to protect Toshio, his younger brother. When Mizushima is betrayed to the police by his girlfriend Akemi, who remains unconvinced of his innocence, he returns to visit Yûko and, after making love, the couple decide to flee together across the countryside, with the film climaxing in a memorable confrontation on the rim of a volcano crater. Playing far more conventionally than the director’s later, more enigmatic meditations on violence, subversive politics and sexual hysteria, if Red Crime can be linked to the new eroduction genre in any way, it is more by dint of its low-budget production circumstances than its actual content. With its lovers-on-the-run scenario reminiscent of Godard’s A bout de souffle (1960), it in fact owes more to crime thriller conventions, and there are none of the overt addresses to contemporary political issues that would characterize his self-produced work.

Jasper Sharp