EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|EMPEROR'S NAKED ARMY MARCHES ON, THE (Yuki Yukite shingun) (director/writer: Kazuo Hara; cinematographer: Kazuo Hara; editor: Jun Nabeshima; cast: Kenzo Okuzaki (Himself); Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sachiko Kobayashi; Facets; 1987-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)|
|"It's meant to offend the Japanese
establishment for their silence over Emperor Hirohito's failure to accept
responsibility for the war, and
does so with relish."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Hara focuses on the ongoing
outlaw activities of the animated Okuzaki, in the early 1980s, without
digging too much into the past and without telling us hardly anything
about his subject's personal life and making no judgment on his sanity,
so by the film's end he's still an unknown figure. Okuzaki was stationed in occupied New
Guinea during the war and survived only because he was hospitalized and
treated by the Americans. We
learn that though the war has been over for a long time he still wants
to expose those responsible for the war and to show its horrors so
Japan will not participate in future wars. He's a violent and
controlling man refusing to let go of the past and live in the present,
who is upset that no one else in the country in a position of authority
seems as concerned with these violations against God as he is and in
his rage attacks on camera some of those he interviews without the
camera crew stopping him. Okuzaki
's credo is "If the result is
good, violence is justified." Hara's
credo is keep the cameras rolling, no matter what.
In 1969 Okuzaki made a name for himself by slinging four
pachinko marbles at Emperor
Hirohito in front of the Imperial Palace. Okuzaki was imprisoned in
Kobe for 13 years and 9 months for plotting to
assassinate a former Prime Minister, the sling shot act and
pictures of the Emperor outside a Tokyo department store.
Okuzaki's sanity can be
questioned by his unrelenting and unorthodox attempts to get at the
truth by confronting those survivors of New Guinea with intense
grilling, vilification, threats and even by force, if necessary. The
film's gist has Okuzaki pay
surprise visits to his fellow New Guinea veterans responsible for the
atrocities and in several confrontations things get violent. These
encounters, at last, reveal that unpopular soldiers of low rank were
eaten by the starving high ranking soldiers because the natives were
too fast to catch and the soldier's deaths were covered-up.
By the film's end the viewer
might think everyone is crazy. As nutty as Okuzaki appears to be, he seems saner to me
than the so-called responsible people who lost their way during the war
and became uncivilized.
It's an amazing film that has
the power to capture the zeal of its violent pacifist subject (world
peace must be achieved by any means possible) and tell the world a
story it believes it needs to hear, even at this late date, and does so
in an uncompromising way even if it's controversial and upsetting to
many who want to forget about the dark past.
REVIEWED ON 5/5/2010 GRADE: A
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ