“Japanese director Shohei Imamura’s true-story drama starring Ken Ogata as a con-man and serial killer who preys on women.
Vengeance Is Mine is Shohei Imamura’s troubling film about Akira Nishiguchi, the son of a devout Catholic family, who went on a murder rampage in Japan between 1963 and 1964.
Released in 1979, it was considered by many as ‘the Japanese In Cold Blood’. However, while Truman Capote’s novel and Richard Brooks’ film adaptation offered motives for only a heightened sense of the disturbing complexity of human nature.
Throughout 140 minutes, Imamura lays bare the possibility of man’s dark and violent inner-self, denying his audience what he knows they desire the most ‘ an explanation for his protagonist’s irrational brutality. Approaching Nishiguchi, renamed Enokizu, with moral ambivalence, Imamura portrays the murderer from a number of perspectives; as humorous, violent, passive, evil and charming, never allowing him to be pigeon-holed as a simple psychopath.
His murders too, are depicted with objectivity. Neither siding with the victim nor the killer, Imamura keeps his camera at middle distance, filming violent scenes in documentary-style, with no shock-cuts and no rapid camera moves, just cold impartiality. Ultimately the protagonist’s motive is probed with one unsettling answer ‘he hasn’t one.
Beginning with a squad car crawling up a mountain road and unfolding as the police draw the past out of their arrestee, Vengeance is Mine won every major award in Japan during the year of its release. Starring Ken Ogata as the alluring, fascinating, yet repellent Nishiguchi, it also stands as a reminder of its late director’s talent and significance in Japanese New Wave cinema.”
From Sky Arts.
My comment: the film explores the dark elements of the human character. Despite the subhuman nature of the lead character, knowing that he is a psychotic killer, I could not wait to see what he was going to do with the people who happened to cross his path and was gagging to know how he was going to carry out his murderous acts. There is no doubt that Iwao Enokizu, the protagonist, is the most atrocious character in this violent film. On the other hand, those around him, be they Iwao’s wife or his father, could not be deemed decent in their behaviour either. There is a subplot involving these two engaging in an indecent relationship. In a nutshell, Vengeance Is Mine is highly charged, brutal and aberrant yet it is watchable and engrossing.
I came across one of my comments on Khun Dan’s blog, namely “Absolutely Bangkok“. Since I have been somewhat lazy lately. I have decided to repost that comment on my blog. I hope Khun Dan won’t mind. ^__^
From “Thailand’s Gay Past”:
“To be honest, I am not at all surprised to know that there are some homosexual pictures painted on various ancient temples in Thailand. In the past, people have tended to think of sex as simply an aspect of human nature. If you ask the Thai elderly, they do not even know what homosexuality means, as the word was hardly ubiquitous during their youth. I reckon little do they care about same sex interaction either; it might be just a little bit amusing to them. I don’t think many Thais will blame homosexuality on western influence; but quite the opposite, they dislike the fact that some people have categorized human sexual behaviour into groups, i.e. heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality; it simply encourages sexual discrimination. Historically speaking, there was an acceptance towards same sex practice in some ancient cultures. Take the Roman and Greek eras for instance – paintings, poems, and literary comments relating to same sex attachments existed during those times. Try searching “homosexuality in ancient Rome” and “homosexuality in ancient Greece”. Same sex or both sex predilections did not seem to be much of an issue for the Romans and the Greeks. In my view, same sex practice might have become taboo in these societies when the new force, also known as religion, emerged. In the case of Siam, the old name of Thailand, like the author said, the country had to embrace western laws and attitudes, including the outlawing of sodomy, so that the state could look more civilised in western eyes during that particular period, and also because of the circumstances the country found itself in at that time.”
I arrived back in the UK on Wednesday night. The journey was ok despite the nuisance of the kids seating near me. For the past 24 hours, I have been a tad jetlagged, but everything seems to be back to normal now. I had a decent sleep last night and woke up quite late this morning.
The holiday was amazing. I stayed in Bangkok for one night; i.e. 14 March, and spent a few days in one of the northern provinces of Thailand in order to do some business. Later on, I went down to the south to have a rest on the beach before returning to Bangkok on Tuesday for a short stay before departing Thailand for the UK. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. During my stay on the island, I had such a peaceful time. The hotel management and staff seemed to know what they were doing. There was not a single thing to complain about. I would not mind going back there again. It is just perfect.