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Shohei Imamura: The Insectís Game

Jairo Ferreira

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1. Throughout this text, Ferreira freely mixes allusions to the various films Imamura had made up to this time, which include Endless Desire (1958), Pigs and Battleships (1961), The Insect Woman (1963), Intentions of Murder/Unholy Desire (1964) and The Pornographers: Introduction to Anthropology (1966).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting into Shohei Imamuraís work takes a lot of human energy. His worldview is among the more chaotic. His films give incongruous impressions. People say horrible things about Imamura. That he is obsessed. A tragi-grotesque poet. An exponent of the irrational. A crazy man like Watanabe, a destroyer like Oshima, a demon like Uchida. The cycling monk goes walking though the depths of hell, always with the stubbornness of a defeated dog. (1) Entomological chronicles tear apart the Anthropology Manual. The pig-man is the lover of the insect-woman. She is the most dispossessed woman that has ever appeared on screen. He was massacred by the ratsí invasion. The silkworm is a character of this time of dissatisfaction. The antennae go into action: all that matters is the energy that compels survival. The electric iron is firing up and it mirrors the distorted image of the animals. Everyone looks for an escape, but does not find any way out. "Desires are enough to live."

Imamuraís characters exchange the ends for the means: men only fight when thereís nothing more to lose. The amorphous crowd aglutinates itself in the city streets: the pigs are growling morbidly. Itís the revolution of insects against pigs. The scenery viewed by the eye of a retarded camera is hallucinatory. Imamura doesnít appeal to anybodyís compassion. He understands the mechanisms, and isnít afraid of digression. Irrationalism goes through the sieve of rationalism and turn itself into crystalline purity. The Dogís Temple looks for new followers, but they all end up ruined in the great Cycling Stadium. The monk who lost his faith in Buddism, or just a game match. Pig meat is more expensive than dog meat. The old monk has had an incestuous past, and dies like a tired dog. Anthropophagy is the way in wartime. Eastern serenity maintains a millennial resentment. The East promises to swallow the West. Japan signs a security treaty with USA. The Yanks have debauched the treasure of the beautiful Japanese ladies. Itís political consanguinity. The imprudent applaud the manoeuvres of the flocking jets. They ignore that their sons are in the wolfís stomach. The new generations react to everything like the insects with their antennae. Itís the time of ingratitude. Human misery numbs reasoning, disfigures morality, erodes feelings. Imamuraís work has the power of the H-bomb: itís a gigantic broom at the heart of aberration. Pulling out hope from depression, tenderness from torture, nobility from abjection, brightness from utter confusion.

Imamura is the champion of the dialectic game. In his vision there are no limitations. If thereís no objective way out, Imamura understands it all through imagination. Itís the conflict between pigs and gods. All that matters is the energy that commands survival. Imamura has his feet on solid ground. He is a demystifier. His characters give the maximum and never manage to reach the minimum. Itís the human condition. Itís the blaze that never goes out. Itís ashes supplying energy for a new opening, where the nightmare will be torn up, the absurd explained, the quotidian understood.

 

 

  Translated from the Portuguese by Filipe Furtado. First published in a 1967 edition of the São Paulo Shimbum (Brazil).  

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© Jairo Ferreira Estate. Translation © Rouge 2006. Cannot be reprinted without permission of the author and editors.
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