Double Suicide

Film - Feature | December 29 | 7:45-9:30 p.m. |  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

 Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Masahiro Shinoda’s first film for Japan’s avant-garde Art Theatre Guild, Double Suicide strikingly reinterprets Monzaemon Chikamatsu’s famed 1720 bunraku puppet play involving the doomed love between a married paper-shop owner and a courtesan; here, it’s 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 Takemitsu’s jarring score heightens the film’s Brechtian, abstract distancing of “story” and “telling,” as does the minimal set design by Kiyoshi Awazu; by the end, only the kurogo’s anguish remains. “Double Suicide extends Chikamatsu’s 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.”

 CA, bampfapress@berkeley.edu, 5106420808