Wednesday, August 3, 2011

#269: Fighting Elegy

(Seijan Suzuki, 1966)

I love Suzuki's work for the most part, but Fighting Elegy left me cold. The basic satirical premise - that sexual frustration begets fascist violence - is neither especially convincing nor funny to me. So instead of viewing the film as an amusing and insightful look at the pre-WWII environment in Japan, I was annoyed by the main character and dissatisfied with the film's take on his actions.

One surprising aspect of my reaction to this film was how highly I regarded Crazed Fruit, the similarly sexually charged (but less politically focused) Japanese offering from a decade before. I tend to feel this is an issue of cultural recognition. Crazed Fruit is totally recognizable, easily comparable to similar films from American cinema (A Place in the Sun and Rebel Without a Cause come to mind immediately). It clearly displays a sense of the new, a major breakthrough in taboos that Fighting Elegy isn't afforded. The  protagonists in the film have similar concerns and exhibit similar social deficiencies, but Fighting Elegy doesn't allow for sympathy towards or an ability to relate with its main character because of the satirical bent. It's difficult to find a way in because of this when you are less familiar with a situation, where a movie might speak volumes to a similar person already invested in the culture.

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