polski
Programme
NIGHT MADNESS
Piotr Kletowski: SAMURAI FANTASIES AND AUSTRALIAN MORA, OR A UNIQUE NIGHT MADNESS

This year we would like to invite you to a unique Night Madness. It will have two focal points. The first will be jidaigeki cinema, or samurai cinema, represented with films by Kenji Misumi and Kihachi Okomoto. These filmmakers, not well-known in Poland, are representatives of samurai cinema of slightly lower calibre than films by Kurosawa, Kobyashi and Hiroshi Inagaki, which does not mean they are less interesting! I will say it teasingly: this is cinema that offers what we love in film sword stories best, that is, involving plot, dazzling action, expressive characters, the cultural and historical flavour of Edo-period Japan and, predominantly, spectacular, breathtaking bloody sword duels to which jidaigeki films owe their Western name, chambarra.

Extraordinary adventures of Hanzo, a Dirty Harry of the shogun period, who fights against law-breakers not only with his sword but frequently using… his penis (that is specially trained with a rice bag!), a clash between the two most famous swordsmen of Japanese screen, blind masseur Zatoichi and charismatic ronin Sanjuro, and a bloody odyssey of the Lone Wolf and his Cub across the wilderness and roads, in anarchy-ridden Japan under the reign of Tokugawa are the visions of film directors who made samurai cinema in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the period this cinema that represented traditional values of Japanese culture had to face New Wave cinema, full of images of sex and violence that attracted crowds to cinemas. And cinema by Misumi and Okotomo won this confrontation and gained masses of followers not only in the Land of the Rising Sun but outside as well. These unconventional films, sometimes really stupefying in their audacity, which tend to combine cruelty and black humour, today have become an unattainable model for action film directors, both from Asia (Takashi Miike) and from our part of the world (Quentin Tarantino), showing their unique screen vitality. Surely, remarkable (and remarkably funny) Hanzo the Razor, or a cop-movie à la bushido, three parts of Lone Wolf and Cub that is an adaptation of the well-known and excellent manga, with a cult status in Poland as well, and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo that draws on motifs created by Kurosawa's films, are quality suggestions not only for connoisseurs who appreciate surprising items on the Japanese cinema agenda but for all who want to see at a cinema ravishing and shocking images that often disregard good taste but always expand horizons of understanding film. However, it predominantly offers a true cinematographic pleasure.

Such a cinematographic pleasure is also offered by the work of Philippe Mora, a rolling stone, an Australian director who represents Ozploitation cinema, already known to New-Horizons audiences, made by directors from Down Under who are enamoured of American genre cinema. Yet Mora is exceptional: he is a director who in his works crosses entertaining frameworks delineated by other masters of Ozploitation and makes his films not only an object of meaningless play, but also creates films which are, in their visual off-hand manner, in their way, puzzling, and which discuss important subjects such as fascism (in an unparalleled film fantasy on the life of Adolf Hitler set in an asylum, Snide and Prejudice), boundaries of the human mind (in a sci-fi film, Communion) and the human drive for freedom that may be expressed in violence (as in the brilliant first film by Mora, Mad Dog Morgan, with an outstanding role played by the late lamented Dennis Hopper in the title role). Of course, Mora knows what film camp is too (The Howling III: The Marsupials is probably the most amusing comedy horror I have ever seen in my life, and is also an interracial love affair!) However, his unhindered films are primarily proof that in art, also in film art, crossing horizons is first of all crossing horizons of creative imagination.

Piotr Kletowski, expert on Asian cinema, author of the monograph Kino Dalekiego Wschodu (Wyd. Krytyki Politycznej, Warsaw 2009), long-standing festival associate.

You can find an extensive analysis of Asian cinema presented at all festival editions, written by Dr Kletowski, in a special New-Horizons edition of the interdisciplinary magazine Ha!art.

My ENH
10th edition archive website (year 2010).
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