Monday, February 10, 2014

Hitono Nozomino Yorokobiyo (Joy Of Man´s Desiring) by Masakazu Sugita, Japan: 2014, Generation Kplus, Berlin Filmfest 2014, IV.

The film is not about an earthquake which caused the death of the parents of two children. It is rather about the after shock visible in the face and the gestures of a girl called Haruna. Haruna is about 12, her little brother Sotha around 5. Haruna tries to hide their parents death before her little brother.
Near the beginning of the film we see a funeral ceremony and later the cremation of the parents. The coffins disappear behind doors of steel. Right from the beginning there is this bitter taste of absence of this parents. An aunt of the children will adopt them, trying to make them feel home.

The Japanese cinematic sensibility is often a seismographic one. According to Carl Theodor Dreyer´s definition of the human face “as a landscape he never got tired to explore", Sugita´s film is as well about the face of the young actress Ayahne Omori. At the first sight you do not see any emotion at all in this face. For now the emotional shock of her loss is hidden. Her movements are slow, often delayed. When she walks, she stops sometimes. One is afraid her body will stop in the next moment to work at all. Once we see her walking through a school corridor. She walks and walks slowly and it seems she never will reach the end of it. Another moment shows how she walks home from school. It begins to rain. Suddenly she stops, remains almost motionless and than knees. The absence of visible emotion is tricky, like silent high explosive gas escaping from a tank. In this moment you get an idea about this child´s inner struggle. Just a hint, but a hint which hits you with this subtle power which is more or less a domain of this rich Japanese Cinema.

At the beginning we see a small injury in the girl´s face. Her feet are bleeding. It is the moment when she tried to safe her parents. Later after they have died not even this slight physical injury is visible.

The music of the film is a strange jingling on a piano which leads to nowhere. Someone tries desperately to develop a melody. But this jingling remains fragmented, it seems efforts without avail. It sounds like this accords are revealing the condition of the children´s mental state. There is no home and there is no way to go.
We see Haruna and Sotha near the end walking through almost deserted landscapes. They do not know where to go and they do not have a place to go.
It is only the teacher at Haruna´s school who has an idea that this girl is first of all heavily depressed, a lost soul. Mostly Haruna is closed into herself. That is hard to bear, she seems the loneliest person on earth.
Only at the end her oppressed emotions are paving its way to the surface of this slim body. Haruna´s body is now a single trembling and crying.And that leads to a Ritwik Ghatak-like emotional commotion, a catharsis which is painful heartbreaking but a necessary move towards healing.

Hitono Nozomino Yoro Kobiyo is quite a lesson in cinematic patience, a domain in which the Japanese Cinema developed so much great directors and countless masterpieces.In western terms we could say Sugita approaches a kind of cinematic minimalism. But how I suggested in my Notes on Ozu´s Akibiyori, I am not sure about the accurateness of this term considering Japan as one of the greatest country in the history of Cinema. The European minimalism is often a minimalism of ideology and of the intellect, while the Asian and especially the Japanese is often one of the heart, a style which first of all is felt and lived.
Hitono Nozomino Yoro Kobiyu is almost a film without any drama but until now it was the first film at this year´s Berlin Filmfestival that broke my heart.
At the beginning of Werner Herzog´s Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser), there is following Quotation: “Don´t you hear the terrible cry which we use to call the silence?”

Rüdiger Tomczak

February, 11, Cinemaxx 3, 14.00
February, 12,Filmtheater am Friedrichshain, 15.30
February, 16, Cinemaxx 3, 11.30

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