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The Man Who Put His Will on Film (1970)

Tôkyô sensô sengo hiwa (original title)
A metaphysical mystery involving a university student's camera getting stolen, and the thief then committing suicide. Looking back upon the event, the situation comes to be questioned if it happened at all.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Kazuo Goto ...
Shoichi Motoki
Sukio Fukuoka ...
Tanizawa
Kenichi Fukuda ...
Matsumura
Hiroshi Isogai ...
Sakamoto
Kazuo Hashimoto ...
Takagi
Kazuya Horikoshi ...
Endo
Emiko Iwasaki ...
Yasuko
Tomoyo Oshima ...
Akiko
Naomi Shiraishi
Kenji Yoshino
Kenji Shiiya
Tetsuro Tsuno
Kiyoko Tsuji
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Storyline

A metaphysical mystery involving a university student's camera getting stolen, and the thief then committing suicide. Looking back upon the event, the situation comes to be questioned if it happened at all.

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Drama

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27 June 1970 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Put His Will on Film  »

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Referenced in La última película (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Socio-political art mystery film
6 March 2009 | by (NYC) – See all my reviews

The late 1960's/early 1970's film output of Japan's Art Theater Guild recently got a showing at the Japan Society in New York. The films are great examples of sponsored experimental narrative cinema something that rarely gets this sort of concentrated effort anywhere in the world. Oshima who already had a long career in cinema used this opportunity to try something unusual as he did a few years earlier with Double Suicide.

The film opens from the perspective of a Bolex 16mm camera as a college student argues with the holder of camera, another student. The person holding the camera runs away film still rolling. We cut to the student chasing after the camera thief who is finally discovered on the edge of a tall parking garage's roof. The thief jumps to his death holding the camera. The police show up but the student grabs the camera which he claims is his. The police give chase and get the camera back. The student chases, on foot, after the police car that has the camera but loses it in a long dark traffic tunnel. The student wakes up surrounded by his friends, all members of a communist protest group devoted to filming the upcoming revolution. They recount a very different story than what we have just seen. They and the student were all at a massive street protest when suddenly the police charged and in the mêlée confiscated all cameras from the protesters. The student chased after the police after they knocked down one of the group's cameramen and took the camera in a police car. The student can't believe this story despite the fact that the person he saw jump off the garage roof is sitting right in front of him! The group, ignoring the student's strange story, starts to plan the next protest which is to get the police to release the confiscated camera and film. The student get fixated on the "dead" man's girlfriend and tries to solve the mystery which he is convinced can be solved by watching the film in the confiscated camera.

Oshima who was a bit older than the characters portrayed in this film clearly has some things to say about the turbulent youth protest movements of the time. That makes the film interesting and perplexing at the same time. There are certainly things going on in this film that don't travel well across culture and time. The dialog between the revolutionary group is funny and insightful about people with big plans for society but no means to actually implement the sweeping changes they propose. In a way this is the problem with the film for this viewer.

There seems to be three films going on here, one a sort of metaphysical mystery film, another a commentary about the student protest movement and third, the standard ATG nudity and sexual violence art drivel. I have now seen enough of the ATG output to know that they frequently required their film makers to cram in at least two rape scenes per movie. Besides the repulsiveness of such scenes, here they serve little real purpose that I can discern except to titillate the frustrated Japanese male audience.

The end result is a fascinating, really well photographed, interesting movie that ends up a bit unfocused. Maybe that was part of the point. Unfortunately the ending telegraphed itself to me but I was captivated to the end.


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