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The Brig (1964)

Not Rated | | Drama | 20 September 1964 (USA)
A ultra-realistic depiction of life in a Marine Corps brig (or jail) at a camp in Japan in 1957. Marine prisoners are awakened and put through work details for the course of a single day, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Warren Finnerty ... Guard
Jim Anderson ... Guard
Henry Howard ... Guard
Tom Lillard ... Guard
James Tiroff ... Prisoner (as Jim Tiroff)
Steven Ben Israel ... Prisoner
Gene Lipton ... Prisoner
... Prisoner
... Prisoner
William Shari ... Prisoner
Viktor Allen ... Prisoner
George Bartenieff ... Prisoner
Gene Gordon ... Prisoner
Mark Duffy ... Prisoner
Henry Proach ... Prisoner
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Storyline

A ultra-realistic depiction of life in a Marine Corps brig (or jail) at a camp in Japan in 1957. Marine prisoners are awakened and put through work details for the course of a single day, submitting in the course of it to extremely harsh and shocking physical and mental degradation and abuse. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Drama

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Not Rated
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20 September 1964 (USA)  »

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Buren  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
A scary reconstruction of life in Marine Corps Prison, Fuji, Japan

Not a typical Mekas film, yet brilliant nonetheless.

Theatre director Judith Malina of avant-garde New York theatre troupe, the Living Theater, decided to stage a production which was a meticulous recreation of life in marine corps prison (the brig). Having been ordered off the premises due to lack of funds, they broke into their theatre and produced one last performance of the play, which Jonas Mekas immortalised on film. It is more than a filmed play though, the camera is certainly not static and most of the action is very close up. The film was, quite amazingly, shot with no retakes, but is still works perfectly, even if occasionally the quality of the sound is not great.

The brig is a very small space where about ten men are kept in a cage lined with bunkbeds. At about half four in the morning they get half beaten out of bed and must jump into their boots pronto. Then it's time to wash their "handsies and facies". Hopefully, if they manage to make their bed as tight as a drum beforehand, they won't get a haymaker to the belly from sarge. The realism is quite amazing, some of the actors genuinely look terrified, producing the play may well have been quite upsetting for these folks. Mekas went as far as to consider the film a documentary, and indeed the film won best documentary at the Venice film festival.

Every action performed is as a result of an order, the men are constantly in motion having to call out their numbers, whilst they march on the spot in marktime, or proceed though the brig in lockstep/mark time. There are white lines all over the brig which they have to ask permission for to cross over. It's really very frightening, and had me on the verge of tears at one point. The entire movie is filmed in the one claustrophobic room which creates a lot of tension. The men are forbidden from talking to each other and must read from the Marine Corps manual when they are not doing anything else, stood at attention with the book held up to their faces. The job of the day is to avoid cracking up and getting thrown in solitary.

So it's apparently extremely realistic and makes other film treatments of Marine Corps life look positively rosy. I suppose if you want men to do something as unnatural as killing each other, this is how you have to treat them.


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