Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 223: Mon Dec 27

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (Hara, 1987): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.20pm

This presentation is part of the Japan season at BFI Southbank. Full details here.

Time Out review:
A documentary portrait of Kenzo Okuzaki, a 62-year-old WWII veteran who acquired a prison record (for killing a man and for firing pachinko balls at the Emperor) in the course of his fanatical campaign to lay the blame for Japan's conduct of the war on the Emperor. Here the self-proclaimed messenger of God seeks to uncover what truly happened in New Guinea in 1945, 23 days after the war ended, when two Japanese soldiers were killed by their colleagues in very mysterious circumstances. The outcome of his investigations is gruesomely weird (cannibalism figures heavily), but stranger still is his style of interrogation, a volatile mix of apologetic politeness, deceit (his wife and anarchist friend pose as victims' relatives), and sudden violence, so relentless that one of his many ageing interviewees, fresh from hospital, ends up in an ambulance. Kazuo Hara's fly-on-the-wall documentary fascinates both for its bizarre protagonist, and for its brutally frank portrait of a society constrained by notions of shame rather than guilt. Jigsaw-like in construction, alleviated by mad wit, the film is unlike any other: rough, raw and sometimes surprisingly moving, it's absolutely compelling.

Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is an extract.

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