Fighting Elegy Reviews
This has got to be one of Suzuki's best films, and with every film of his I see my respect for him rises significantly.
Usually, this is the paragraph in which I insert a plot summary, but I've given you about as much plot as I understand. I can tell you that Nanbu is originally staying with Michiko's family while he attends a military school. He's in love with her, but he's also in a militaristic gang that forbids contact with girls. His association with that gang gets him expelled and sent to another school, where he beats up even more people. It's all a complicated tapestry of beating people up and pining over a girl who isn't ever going to end up with him. And somehow, this ends up as part of an attempted coup. I couldn't begin to tell you how, but well.
The filming's not bad. I will say that. There's a sort of a strange bit where the film goes dark on one side and then the other as the students chant "Duck! Duck!" which I assume to be some sort of Japanese insult that I don't understand. Indeed, the teacher in question is later referred to as "Professor Duck." It's all very strange, but I think we've noticed this to be a theme in this movie. The shots of one of the larger fights leave me a bit startled that Nanbu isn't fighting alone. I thought he was, but he turns out to have this gang isntead. They're quite skilled, too, if you care about that sort of thing. I believe it's Nanbu himself who attempts to strangle someone with his feet and actually makes a pretty good go at it.
I don't really mind not understanding some movies. I don't really mind not understanding this one. It's submerging yourself into a new world, and it doesn't entirely matter if it's a world beyond your comprehension. Isn't that rather the point? I don't understand why it's so important to these boys that they eschew the company of women and disrespect the authority of their elders. I mean, military schools seem, in a lot of ways, to have a homoerotic component to them, as does any world of nothing but men or nothing but women. How much the worse because Nanbu [i]has[/i] Michiko to get involved with, but it's considered a show of weakness by the other boys? After all, isn't it considered awfully manly to have been involved with a [i]lot[/i] of women in many other circles?
Perhaps I ought to learn some more about Japanese culture if I'm going to keep watching these bizarre, obscure Japanese films. But I must say, I enjoy them. The films you've heard of give you a slice of a life that you expect, in a way--you know Kurosawa's point of view, for example, and you know that people are going to think and behave as people in Kurosawa films are wont to do. But in films by directors you're unfamiliar with, the characters think and behave in ways you're unfamiliar with, if it's a film made outside your own culture. Perhaps this is entirely normal for Japanese military academy boys of the 1930s. Perhaps not. But I have no way of knowing.