Friday, March 19, 2010

Koji Wakamatsu's Yuke yuke nidome no shojo (1969)

With sunglasses on at night with a Blues Brothers movie poster behind him, sitting at a bar, smoking some cigarettes and maybe having a drink or two, Koji Wakamatsu speaks coolly about his career. Having been kicked out of his old apartment for painting the walls (to make a movie within), Wakamatsu moved to another. This apartment building had a roof where Wakamatsu liked to go to either relax or exercise. He was hit one day with the idea of making a film with the roof as its location. At the time, he was reading a poem by a poet who was a friend of his screenwriter and friend, Masao Adachi. Wakamatsu asked Adachi to write a script based on the poem and the location. "All made up," laughs Wakamatsu. "Another four-day film." The film is Yuke yuke nidome no shojo (Go, Go Second Time Virgin) (1969). A lyrical film and quite poetic and also extremely angry. Two-fisted, hands held high to the sky, middle fingers straight up angry.
Plot synopsis #1 (bare-bones, no spoilers, primarily as a warning for prospective viewers as the film is quite intense):

A group of young men are carrying a screaming young woman up the stairs of an apartment building while a meek and timid young man follows behind. On the rooftop, the group, save the meek and timid young man, rape the young woman. This is late afternoon. During the trauma, the young woman passes out. She awakens in the morning on the roof top and her attackers are gone save the young and timid one. The two begin talking. The group awakens, having also slept on the roof top, and before exiting, one of the group rapes the young woman again. She openly confesses her to desire to, right now, want to die. She doesn't want to kill herself, however (as she reveals her very personal reason later on). She wants someone to kill her, and the young meek timid man says that he thinks he can do that for her.

Plot synopsis #2:

Unhappy with they way that the world has treated them, a dissociated young man and a dissociated young woman attempt to connect. "For me," says Wakamatsu. "a woman is a being who understands me and accepts me totally without me needing to explain myself. In my films one always finds a yearning for a woman of infinite grace and kindness." Perhaps this sentiment from Wakamatsu works both ways within Yuke yuke nidome no shojo: the young man is willing to listen to her as she bares all emotionally. The young woman doesn't probe the young man with questions nor does she seem judgmental. She is, however, willing to stay by his side long enough for him to reveal what's inside him.
Finally, perhaps Wakamatsu best describes Yuke yuke nidome no shojo with these opening images:
The adults in Yuke yuke nidome no shojo appear in extremes from clueless to cruel. A woman hangs her washing on the roof top the morning after the young woman's rape, smiling at the sunshine and the beautiful weather, unaware of last night's events and unobservant as to its aftermath. The building's superintendent who locks the roof top at night barely steps over the threshold of the door to investigate; despite having a flashlight in hand, he might as well be blind instead of uncaring and careless in his job. The young woman was a victim of rape once before the incident on the rooftop; and when she is being raped on-screen by the young group of thugs, her mind collapses and she falls into a dream: two adults run her down at sea side and rape her on the beach. The young man had a particularly violent incident happen to him in an apartment the day before, an incident that he shares with the young woman (in some attempt at gaining her understanding). The couple in Yuke yuke nidome no shojo lack innocence only because of the tragedies that have befallen them but not purity. In reality, these young adults are really children and clueless as well. However, Wakamatsu paints his couple as still having an innate desire to make a human connection despite everything and every one around them attempting to pull them apart. Yuke yuke appears so unreal that its reality is polarized. Wakamatsu's unique style benefits thematically as his social criticism never comes off as didactic. Visually, Yuke yuke is stunning. The black and white film gives the volatile events on screen a cooler background. The music is folksy (Wakamatsu admits the music and the songs in the film were written by him, his screenwriter, and his A.D.), and it, like the shooting style, attempt to lull the viewer. The lyrics are poetry with phrases like, "the nitro of love," lacking a true sense of irony which emphasizes its openness and honesty. A color sequence is saved for an intense scene of violence. The violence of the film is harsh, but I don't think Wakamatsu would have it any other way. The objective facts about Yuke yuke nidome no shojo are from Wakamatsu's interview included as a supplement on Image Entertainment's DVD of Go, Go Second Time Virgin. The quote from Wakamatsu within the paragraph entitled "Plot synopsis #2" is from Eros in Hell: Sex, Blood and Madness in Japanese Cinema by Jack Hunter, 1998, Creation Cinema Collection, Volume Nine, Creation Books, London and Berkeley, CA.

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