Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"I Hate Irresponsible People!"

Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (1987) - Hara Image
Crazy. Kenzo Okuzaki is a dedicated man. He is a 62-year old fiery WWII vet who wouldn't stop for anything to get confessions out of his interviewees in what happened in New Guinea at the end of the war. He is the first one to tell you that he spent 13 years in prison for murdering a former army officer and taking pot shots at Emperor Hirohito. Driving around in a van with anti-war/anti-emperor slogans, armed with loud speakers, Okuzaki is one of those slightly demented, intimidating and certainly dangerous characters who you don't want to confront in real life. He hates irresponsible people and he hates Hirohito who he deems as responsible for thousands of soldier's needless death in the war.

Everyone he interviews has different versions or is holding out on the truth. After much coaxing and physical altercations, he finds out the ugly truth- how starving soldiers were resorted to cannibalism- dark meat (Natives), white meat (American soldiers) but also among themselves (troublemakers and selfish ones). For many, they just want to forget that they were ever involved in that shameful time, 40 years ago. Let the sleeping dogs lie. But for Okuzaki, confronting them and holding them accountable (with violence if necessary) is his mission in life. The postscript says he shot a son of the captain who ordered the execution of the two soldiers who were charged with desertion. Hara just lets his subject talk and act, never interfering with whatever's happening on the screen. Utterly compelling and unforgettable.

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