This Transient Life (Jissoji Akio, 1970): BFI Southbank, NFT 2, 5pm
The Japanese Art Theatre Guild's 50th anniversary is being celebrated in a retrospective at BFI Southbank. Here is an excellent article from Sight & Sound on underground cinema in the country during the 60s and 70s.
BFI introduction: TV-director Jissoji Akio's feature debut - and one of Art Theatre Guild's's biggest hits - is a sensuous exploration of Buddhist spirituality in tandem with sex. Scripted by Ishido Toshiro, the film contemplates incest with a daring sincerity that chimes with its unique shot composition and fluid camera movements that seem to defy gravity. The lucid pace and captivating control of its aesthetic universe enthralled its audience worldwide on its release.
J-Film Pow Pow website review by Chris Magee:
'Besides its merits of its heavy-handed religious/ sexual messages there is one thing about “This Transient Life” that cannot be debated -- the beauty of its construction. For a film that is only marginally known in North America it is remarkable to see how influential it has been on on the work of a group of very well known film-makers. Jissoji's constant camera movement and dramatically composed black-and-white shots can been seen the the work of such diverse directors as Shinya Tsukamoto, Go Shibata and even in "Love & Pop", the frenetic live-action directorial debut of animator Hideaki Anno.'