Friday, July 8, 2011

#104: Double Suicide

(Masahiro Shinoda, 1969)

Spoiler alert - that's the final image of the film on the cover. Normally, that might be a problem. I'm definitely the kind of guy that doesn't like to know anything about a movie going in if I can help it. But here it seems appropriate because Double Suicide isn't really about the plot. Instead, it's about the thin line between artifice and reality and the unseen forces that guide our actions and lead us to our fates.

The film is based on a puppet play about a married man who falls in love with a prostitute. The two decide to commit suicide when they realize they cannot be together. Double Suicide opens as a depiction of the play, beginning with the puppeteers getting ready for the performance as someone whispers direction. Even as the characters become real, there is still evidence of the puppeteers all around, guiding the characters with hands and invisible strings.

Shinoda's work is a rebellious and subversive one, every bit as anti-authoritarian and radical as Kobayashi's Harakiri. The final moment of quiet death evokes the tragedy of the individual being destroyed by the system just as it presents suicide as the last refuge of freedom in a corrupt and totalitarian society.

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