Film - Feature | January 27 | 7 p.m. | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Masahiro Shinodas first film for Japans avant-garde Art Theatre Guild, Double Suicide strikingly reinterprets Monzaemon Chikamatsus famed 1720 bunraku puppet play involving the doomed love between a married paper-shop owner and a courtesan; here, its not just the play that is presented, but the entire presentation of the play. We begin with the kurogo (men dressed in black who traditionally maneuver the puppets) assembling the stage; soon, however, live actors replace the puppets, though they too are controlled by the kurogo. Toru Takemitsus jarring score heightens the films Brechtian, abstract distancing of story and telling, as does the minimal set design by Kiyoshi Awazu; by the end, only the kurogos anguish remains. Double Suicide extends Chikamatsus concerns to include ethics versus eroticism, wrote Albert Johnson, a thralldom timelessly enacted behind the mystery of empty streets and houses, beyond the anonymity of human crowds.