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Archive for August 27th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1971 135m) not on DVD

Aka. Mandala

Make harmony with benevolence

p  Toyoaki Awa  d  Akio Jissoji  w  Toshiro Ishido  ph  Yozo Inagaki  ed  Keichi Yraoka  m  Toru Kuyuki  art  Noriyoshi Ikeya

Shin Kishida, Koji Shimizu, Hiroko Sakurai, Ryo Tamura,

In a room furnished entirely in dazzling white, with the only trappings being white bed sheets, a couple make love enthusiastically, writhing around in seeming orgiastic bliss, but any sounds are drowned out, literally, by that of waves crashing against the shore.  In some ways, despite another twelve reels that follow, the essence of the second part of Akio Jissoji’s Buddhist trilogy (following This Transient Life and preceding Poem) can be distilled, in its essence, to that final scene.   Nature and the natural opposed to unnatural. 

            Mandara follows two Kyoto students, as they follow what could, depending on your mood, be summed up, in the words of one of the protagonists, as either a utopia or a secret society.  Or a religious cult devoted to agriculture and the search for eroticism.  Both notions tie in with the idea of returning to the primordial state, of a time when love wasn’t known, only sex, so that rape was an acceptable act which women were to expect.  And as such there is a lot of rape in Mandara, enough to make one think we were watching a Wakamatsu, Kumashiro or Konuma film from the same era.  There’s nothing erotic about what we see here, though.  It’s all bestial, savage, one might even say nihilist.  That’s the paradox of it, a community where sex has been reduced to such an extent that the pleasure can only be found in imagining the woman to be dead, or in a comatose state.  It’s sickening in many ways, yet it dares you to be repulsed, dares you to turn away and uses visual stimulants and iconography to stir the melting pot of ideas.  Waves, the shore, a waterfall, simple farming, the digging of irrigation ditches, devotion towards a tapestry and a statue, and to the discipline and charisma – that word is used often – of its leader. (more…)

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