Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Friday, October 15, 2010 at 7:30 PM
ZEN & ITS OPPOSITE:
ESSENTIAL (& Turbulent)
Japanese Art House
“If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.”
Linji Yixuan, Ch'an Master (? – 866)
“I ask of film what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs.”
Alexandro Jodorowsky (1929- )
Here's a heads-up about the next film series that will be screening at Japan Society, NY. I plan to post reviews of the four stories from Kwaidan, the film that will start the series on October 15th, and hopefully reviews of at least some of the other films to be shown.
The 2010-2011 Monthly Classics series peers into the dark side of the classical repertoire of the late 1950s and 1960s: from Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan (1965), Kon Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain (1959), Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba (1964) to Nobuo Nakagawa’s Hell (1960) and Kihachi Okamoto’s Sword of Doom (1966). Like Antonin Artaud’s proposed “theater of cruelty”, these five master filmmakers offer the bloody and all-too-human spectacle of sin, folly and frailty, in unforgettable tales of crime and punishment, vengeful ghosts and delirious soldiers, mad samurai and deranged marauders (or the other way around), fire and brimstone, and spiritual darkness for good measure… tales of our world, which will give a good (or bad) idea of what comes next.
Thus, the films selected show the little-understood, paradoxical unity of zen and violence: in his book, Zen at War (1997), Brian Daizen Victoria, an ordained Soto Zen priest, documented Japanese Buddhist support for violence and warfare, from 1868 until the end of World War II. He tracked down this surprising embracing of war-making to the intimate relation between Zen and Samurai warrior culture.
This selection will satisfy the courteous viewer with an appetite for dark eroticism and macabre poetry: one who will does not recoil from the exquisite monstrosity of the human heart—which will not fail to haunt him/her long after the screening(s).
Each film illustrates one or several of the "Six Planes of Existence"—a Buddhist concept commonly referred to as “Six Paths” (Rokudō or Rokudō-rinne) in Japan—within “the realm of Birth and Death” (Samsara).
For more info about this film series at Japan Society, click here.
Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street (between 1st and 2nd avenues), New York, NY.