Throw Away Your Books: The Films of Shūji Terayama
・Martin E Segal Theater（New York, NY）:November 20
・Anthology Film Archives（New York, NY）:November 21 –December 10
Shuji Terayama was a playwright, novelist, filmmaker and cultural agent provocateur who was one of the most influential and innovative figures in the post-WWII Japanese avant-garde. Created over the course of only 20 years, Terayama’s body of work as a filmmaker comprises five theatrical features, as well as more than a dozen shorter pieces. Subjects of his films include everything from relatively straightforward narratives, to phantasmagoric memory pieces and expanded cinema works that incorporate multiple projectors and even audience participation. This retrospective represents the most comprehensive survey of Terayama’s work to occur in the U.S. in decades.
This film series is co-presented by Harvard Film Archive, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, Anthology Film Archives, George Eastman Museum, National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and The Japan Foundation.
SPECIAL IN-PERSON APPEARANCES
On November 21 & 22, the programs of short films will be presented in person by Terayama’s colleague and collaborator Henrikku Morisaki, as well as by Chizuru Usui, Assistant Curator at the National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
On Monday, November 20, the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY (365 Fifth Avenue) will host a special event during which Henrikku Morisaki will present two films involving performative elements (LAURA and THE TRIAL), followed by a panel discussion on Terayama’s work. For more info visit: www.thesegalcenter.org.
SHŪJI TERAYAMA SHORT FILMS
With the exception of THE WAR OF JAN-KEN PON, EMPEROR TOMATO KETCHUP, and GRASS LABYRINTH, all the films in these programs have been restored by the National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
THE CAGE / KANSHŪ 1964, 11 min, 16mm
THE WAR OF JAN-KEN PON / JANKENSENSŌ 1971, 12 min, 16mm
EMPEROR TOMATO KETCHUP / TOMATO KECHAPPU KŌTEI 1971, 27 min, 16mm
BUTTERFLY DRESS PLEDGE / CHŌFUKU-KI 1974, 12 min, 35mm
YOUNG PERSON’S GUIDE TO CINEMA / SEISHŌNEN NO TAME NO EIGA NYŪMON 1974, 3 min, triple-screen 16mm
Total running time: ca. 70 min.
Tues, Nov 21 at 7:00 and Sun, Dec 3 at 5:00.
THE LABYRINTH TALE / MEIKYŪ-TAN 1975, 16 min, 16mm
A TALE OF SMALLPOX / HŌSŌ-TAN 1975, 31 min, 16mm
THE ERASER / KESHIGOMU 1977, 20 min, 16mm
Total running time: ca. 70 min.
Tues, Nov 21 at 9:00 and Sun, Dec 3 at 6:45.
LES CHANTS DE MALDOROR / MARUDORORU NO UTA 1977, 27 min, 16mm
AN ATTEMPT TO DESCRIBE THE MEASURE OF A MAN / ISSUNBŌSHI WO KIJUTSUSURU KOKOROMI 1977, 19 min, 16mm
THE WOMAN WITH TWO HEADS: A SHADOW FILM / KAGE NO EIGA: NITŌ ONNA 1977, 16 min, 16mm
Total running time: ca. 65 min.
Wed, Nov 22 at 7:00 and Sun, Dec 3 at 8:30.
THE READING MACHINE / SHOKENKI 1977, 22 min, 16mm
FATHER / CHICHI 1977, 3 min, 16mm
GRASS LABYRINTH / KUSA-MEIKYŪ 1983, 40 min, 35mm. From The Japan Foundation Film Library.
Total running time: ca. 70 min.
Wed, Nov 22 at 9:00 and Sat, Dec 9 at 7:00.
THROW AWAY YOUR BOOKS, RALLY IN THE STREETS / SHO O SUTEYO MACHI E DEYOU
1971, 137 min, 35mm. In Japanese with English subtitles. Archival print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia.
Typically for Terayama, his first feature began life not as a film but rather as a stage piece produced by the Tenjô Sajiki theater group that Terayama and others had formed in 1967. It would then give its title to a multi-media book that Terayama produced with the now-legendary artist Yokoo Tadanori. These unusual origins are apparent in the film’s collage-like mix of disparate materials and narrative elements, all of it cohering around the figure of Eimei, a socioeconomically marginalized young man swept up in the countercultural currents transforming Japan at the time. At once a document of a tumultuous era, a call to arms, and a self-conscious critique of its own medium, THROW AWAY YOUR BOOKS is one of the most audacious films of the 1970s.
Thurs, Nov 30 at 7:30 and Mon, Dec 4 at 7:30.
THE BOXER / BOKUSÂ
1977, 94 min, 16mm. In Japanese with English subtitles. From The Japan Foundation Film Library.
Terayama channeled his lifelong interest in boxing into this film, and while it was by far his most conventional and commercially acceptable movie to date (it was produced on the heels of the worldwide phenomenon that was ROCKY), his deeply personal preoccupation with the sport and its trappings results in a fascinating fusion of avant-garde sensibility and classic narrative. Focusing on the relationship between a young man determined to become a champion and his reluctant, middle-aged coach, THE BOXER succeeds both as a work of startling visual beauty and as a compulsively exciting story, with Terayama’s investment in the sport apparent in his casting of actual Japanese boxers in cameo roles.
Fri, Dec 1 at 7:00.
FRUITS OF PASSION / LES FRUITS DE LA PASSION
1981, 83 min, 35mm. In Japanese and French with English subtitles. From The Japan Foundation Film Library.
Certainly the unlikeliest film in Terayama’s filmography, FRUITS OF PASSION is a work-for-hire adaptation of the sequel to THE STORY OF O, the classic erotic novel by Pauline Réage. THE STORY OF O had been brought to the screen to modest success in 1975 (with Udo Kier in the starring role), but the hiring of Terayama to helm the sequel was probably the result of the international fanfare surrounding Nagisa Oshima’s IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES, whose producer Anatole Dauman was responsible for FRUITS OF PASSION. Though FRUITS never ascends to the heights of IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES, with Terayama’s vision clearly subordinated to the demands of the soft-core genre, it’s nevertheless fascinating to observe him working in this context, especially with Udo Kier having morphed into a similarly ubiquitous figure in commercial European cinema of the time, the infamous Klaus Kinski.
Fri, Dec 1 at 9:15 and Sun, Dec 10 at 7:00.
PASTORAL HIDE AND SEEK / DEN’EN NI SHISU
1974, 104 min, 35mm. In Japanese with English subtitles. From The Japan Foundation Film Library.
Arguably Terayama’s masterpiece, PASTORAL HIDE AND SEEK also speaks to his refusal to submit to the constraints of any particular medium and his proclivity for revisiting themes and ideas. Like THROW AWAY YOUR BOOKS, PASTORAL took multiple forms over the years: manifesting first as a television broadcast in 1962, it then gave its title to a poetry collection Terayama published in 1965, only to reappear in 1974 as this extraordinary film. The recurring nature of the title and its attendant concepts is all too appropriate for a film that is one of the cinema’s great meditations on memory and childhood. A profoundly personal work of art, in which chronology, identity, and logic give way to a free association of images and ideas, PASTORAL is autobiography as surrealist phantasmagoria.
Sat, Dec 2 at 6:15 and Fri, Dec 8 at 7:00.
FAREWELL TO THE ARK / SARABA HAKOBUNE
1984, 127 min, 16mm. In Japanese with English subtitles. From The Japan Foundation Film Library.
“Set in a fictional village, FAREWELL TO THE ARK is an epic story that charts the ups and downs of a family over the course of a century or so. The film presents several dichotomies, including rulers and ruled, community and outsiders, backwardness and civilization, all of which take place against the backdrop of a world full of illusion and eroticism. At the time, Terayama was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, but in a seeming collision course with oblivion, he turned down requests for hospital treatment and doggedly continued shooting on location in Okinawa. Filming was suspended twice, and at times a simple bed was brought on set and Terayama directed while lying down. Weaving together an intricate tapestry of life and death, space and time, FAREWELL TO THE ARK represents the culmination of Terayama’s work.” –TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Sat, Dec 2 at 8:45 and Sun, Dec 10 at 9:00.
Special thanks to Kanako Shirasaki, Koji Nozaki & Sanae Tani (The Japan Foundation); Akira Tochigi & Chizuru Usui (National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo); Henrikku Morisaki; Go Hirasawa; Julian Ross; Steph Carter & Caitlyn Leon (National Film and Sound Archive of Australia); Thomas Dylan Eaton; the Globus Family; Haden Guest, Jeremy Rossen & Brittany Gravely (Harvard Film Archive); Emi Haraguchi (Toho); Frank Hentschker, Peter Eckersall & Brad Burgess (The Segal Center); Hiroshi Kono (Mar Creation); Jurij Meden (George Eastman Museum); and Naoki Shinozaki (Toei)