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Peter Nellhaus

I hope Terayama's films become available on DVD. I checked his IMDb credits and realized he co-wrote Susumu Hani's Nanami: Inferno of the First Love, another filmmaker and film overdue for rediscovery.


Another filmmaker in the Blog-a-Thon I've not been exposed to.

Is Cashiers du Cinemart still around? Seems to me I haven't noticed it on a newsstand in years. (didn't know you'd written for it)


Really interesting Filmbrain!
I had the chance to watch a few of his short films last year (Emperor Tomato Ketchup is one I missed though). There was one short film, Rolla, half-perforamnce half-film, with the actor in attendance who was literaly coming in and out of the screen (through a slit in the screen) synchronized with his appreance/disappearance on screen, creating an off-screen space in the audience's reality.
Another one, where the audience was asked to plant nails on the (wooden) screen.
I wish I could remember more, what stroke me was this over-exposed aesthetics you mention and the curious a-temporality of his universe. The films could have been filmed at the XIXth century or something.
Oh yes there was this one where a door frame would be travelled to different locations, in the sea, in the street, in the country and protagonists forced to go through. Kinda surrealist and fetishist too, sometimes just trash though.


Cashiers du Cinemart is technically still around, though it's been over a year since the last issue.


Harry --

I've not had the opportunity to see many of his short films, but I have seen most of his features. It's a real shame his work isn't better known -- films like Pastoral: To Die in the Country and Throw Away Your Books, Take to the Streets, which are both minor masterpieces.


Peter --

I recently obtained a pristine copy of Nanami on DVD. I hope to post something about in the next few weeks.


It seems there'a book out about him although it mainly deals with his stage works.


Here's a review of the book on midnighteye



Great piece. I'm definitely adding this to my next superhappyfun order.


Filmbrain ~ I had never heard of Terayama, and am ashamed to say, have seen almost no Japanese experimental cinema. So, thank you for this fascinating post!

Just in the last few days, I have learned an enormous amount about the sheer variety of a-g cinema out there...


I'm still smarting from my visit to Japan last year where I spent a considerable sum on Terayama and Tenjo Sajiki ephemera and posted it back to myself. Never to arrive, alas...

There's a series of links over at Grey Lodge to a huge selection of Terayama. Since the files seem to be hosted by Ubuweb/WFMU, they would seem to be kosher-ish!


One of my favourite random finds on the internet is the site of the artist Kimiaki Ishizuka who has made a series of figurines of various Japanese cultural figures including Terayama!



Samoung --

Wow! That's quite a find. I've wanted to see many of those short films for ages. Thanks so much for the links.


Filmbrain - this is an extremely interesting post, thanks very much for this! I had never heard of Terayama before so I read this with great interest.

I hope this isn't a silly question, but the similarities do strike me: how influential, if at all, was Terayama's work in affecting the post-apocalyptic/"negative utopia" streak that seems to particularly dog Japanese films, like the famous Akira (which has a similar "children-gone-nuts" element), or Kinji Fukasaku's Fukkatsu no hi? Or was he not at all (I know there are also other factors responsible for that, including Japan's post-war chaos)? Also Battle Royale, which might even be a sort of sequel ("children who have gone so nuts the adults punish them by forcing them to kill each other")? Just a speculative question, really.

Thanks again for the fascinating introduction - will definitely keep a lookout for his work!

Cheers Jenna

The Cinesthete

I'm glad you went into detail about the cultural influence on the film. I have seen it, but my lack of knowledge of the society and of Tereyama himself hurt my understanding of the film. I'm looking forward to rewatching it after reading this. Also, I have both the black and white film and a longer, colorized version... anybody happen to know why the two versions exist?


Jenna -

An excellent question, and you're right in that Japanese cinema does have more than its fair share of films of this nature.

It's hard to say exactly what effect Terayama (and the other major artists of the Japanese avant-garde) had on directors such as Otomo, but given that he was around 20 at this time, it's likely that he was caught up in the political furor, much of which was expressed through music, art, theater, film, etc.

As for Fukusaku, I've not seen Fukkatsu no hi, but I do know that Battle Royale was very much a reaction to the media's tendency to lay the blame on many of Japan's problems on the youth -- something Fukusaku was quite critical of.

An excellent subject for a book. . .


Cinesthete (great name!) --

The longer version (which is in fact sepia-toned) was the original version released in Japan. The shorter black & white version was targeted to a European audience (which might explain the German inter-titles, though I'm not sure about that.)

Personally, I think the longer version works better. The shorter version lacks some of the context, and is more a catalog of the shocking bits.


Don't you mean unjustly cry child pornography? I hope that's what you mean.


Yes, you're right. Complete misuse of the word. Reason #63 why I need an editor.


I just remember (because of your German intertitle comment) that at the Maldoror Q&A, Terayama's editor (I think) said that Terayama didn't want his films subtitled because he used French, German and Japanese on-screen quotes for graphic qualities rather than narrative meaning, so it didn't matter if we didn't understand. He was a true silent filmmaker ;)


Thank you in advance for your quick answer !. Very nice post.

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