Friday, December 17, 2010

Nagisa Oshima and Godard

"Breathless allows us to think the charm of cinema is from the continuity in the discontinuity"
 - Nagisa Oshima

Recently I read this quote from Nagisa Oshima and make me think about how the French new wave influenced the Japanese new wave in the 60s. The Japanese new wave directors, like the French new wave auteurs, aim to be liberated from their "father's cinema". They embrace the small scale shooting group and auteur. Lots of them were cooperated with the art house film company ATG (Art Theater Guild) which was a cinema magzine at its beginning...

I watched a serious of Oshima's film many years ago, the director's later works investigate the themes of confusion and rupture came with westernization/mordernization after world war II. I liked his late works such as Taboo(1999) and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence(1985). While these two works he seens not that enthusiastic about deconstructing the narrative structure like his earlier works.

Then I recall Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1969). It was hard for me to understand when I watched it the first time. Now it seens clearer to me. The methods, including the collage of different materials, the combination of B/W and color, the decomposition of the narrative structure with voice-over, are all very Godard. The absurd action is more like a documentary fragrements of some behavior art, and make me think of the use of "Fool" in Godard's film. (such like Jean Pierre Leaud in Weekend). And the set of the love/sex story between the woman work in book store and the thief, is kind of Breathless...(although Oshima said it's more from The Thief Journal by Jean Genet). The way he demonstrates the polictics, sexual politic, and the student movements, compare with Godard, is more subtle and metaphorical, but all in relation with each other...

In some way this film is also a documenatry recording the 60s culture movement in Japan, lots influential people in art, culture and cinema fields are actually actors in the film. Including the pop artist Tadanori Yooko, theater troup leader/director Juro Kara, doll maker Yotsuya Simon and the most interesting one, the founder of Kinokuniya bookstore Moichi Tanabe.

Yotsuya Simon


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