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Body, nature and paranoia

Body, nature and paranoia
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The celebrated and censored film by the Japanese director Wakamatsu in the Osians not only is a walk down memory lane of Japanese film history, but also situates the normative parameters of understanding the connotations of body and nature in recent times.

In Go,Go, Second Time Virgin, Wakamatsu moved against the conventional parameters of depicting the berserk city lives in Japan. The film has too many instances captured in the same locale – the Tokyo apartment terrace.

The lives of the awry and amok youths unwind here. The code of respect in this life is sex; without dignity, morals and compassion. The disquieting modern Japanese life here is an extension of what Yukio Mishima portrayed in some of his memorable texts.

The dialogues of the 17 year old girl with the youth, abandoned by his mother, are the intermixing ideas of the same nature which deny life of the body. The denial of the body by sexual pleasure and the death drive inherent in the Japanese system get doubly complicated in Go, Go, Second Time Virgin as the dialogues of the twice raped becomes a passive resistance against the same body of dishonor and shame.

The youth, on the other hand, becomes the explicit symbol of a modern Samurai without a traditional sword. He knives all the rapists and traffickers to death. The aerial shots from the apartment terrace where the normal life progresses – including the movement of the vans and trams, the red light where an aged couple cross the street and the benign signals shown by a pedestrian are all removed from the cloistered lives.

Wakamatsu is a master of technique. With a low budget, he succeeded in making a stark reality drenched by blood – as shown on the bodies knifed, the face of the youth.

The victims of Wakamatsu’s films never gain independence. The girl can never recognise the youth’s intentions, even his poetry or the songs he sings of his mother. Destruction of mutual bodies symbolise the death of a custom.  The incorporation of the saxophone music while the boy and the girl quickly make their passage through the staircase is another significant departure from a dry scene portrayed by showing the dead bodies in the room. The comic strips shown alternatively indicate motherhood and clan fights. The final frame, an aerial shot fulfills an inter- text with Roman Polanski’s films. Forever, the body in Wakamatsu’s film becomes one of undeniable pleasure and negation.

The Kazakhstan director Zhanabek  Zhetiru’s  Akkyz is a film that runs for the competition in the Osians in the Asian category. The director, interestingly, has made his family members act in this film.

Having studied the science of film making from the University of Moscow, Zhetiru’s film has its own peculiar message of the history of Kazakhstan. The film weaves the folk tale, the myth and the contemporary question of the exploitation of nature.

The perspective of Akkyz is primarily shown from the viewpoint of a simple girl who loves nature, her explorations and the swans that come around the sea-coast.  Her discovery that the swans are regularly shot and the population of all nature birds disappearing makes her ill and a victim of serious mental disturbance.

Her pathos, however, is the distinct opposite of her brother who leaves the small place in search of job.  Her brother’s life in the town never recovers the deep- rooted malaise of the exploitation of nature.

In depicting the clash between tradition and modernity, Zhetiru’s film is not doing justice to the present.

The swan whose story goes back to the creation of the land. the innocent girl’s disappearance, portrayed as in a fairy tale, also contains the same message; the mother who looks at the disappearance of the mythic grandfather on his horse to an unseen territory of her visual world becomes the all suffering mother who carries the same pathos in Kazakhstan life.

The film, apart from showing this message of innocence and a journey back to nature, completely shuts of the present of the country.

If in Wakamatsu’s film a bold acting is offered by Mimi Kokamura as the girl who is raped, Aruzhan, the girl in Zhetiru’s film shows the other side of a tradition. But we expected more from a Kazakhi film.

Krishnan Unni P teaches English at Deshbandhu College, University of Delhi.
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