Tuesday, June 10, 2008

This Transient Life 無常 (1970)

My anticipation for this film was so high after Roland Domenig likened it to the work of Bresson and Dreyer. Well, Bressonian and Dreyeresque it is not, but it’s an interesting, if not somewhat pretentious Japanese film in its own right. I was so enamored with the review that several months ago, I went out and bought the Geneon disc without English subtitles, something that I don’t regret doing because it’s never been translated, but much of content in this dialogue-rich film has evaded me. But still, though the film is flawed because of its highly unnatural camera setups (something which has been praised, but tends to be a problem), Jissoji is unique in that he is maybe the only Japanese director to analyze Buddhism with such a high degree of concentration. There are many long dialogues in the film, ones which I can’t quite be sure of at this stage, but I’m sure delve deeply into Eastern philosophy. Also, like so many other Japanese films, incest is a main theme, and happens to be the motif that drives the plot. I would love to watch this again, but the second time through, I need my subtitles.

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