Monday, November 7, 2016

Masao Adachi “AKA Serial Killer” (1969)

Masao Adachi
“Instead of replacing the camera with the rifle, why not have one in each hand?” – Masao Adachi

Born in 1939 in Fukoka, Japan, Masao Adachi was one of the preeminent figures in revolutionary cinema during the 1960s/1970s. He was a close collaborator of filmmaker Koji Wakamatsu, and both had the same photographer director, the legendary Hideo Ito. Masao Adachi provided the scripts for such masterpieces of Wakamatsu as The Embryo Hunts in Secret (1966) and Violated Angels (1967).

After directing his own movies, dealing with left-wing political themes and sex, quite often mixed together, Adachi left cinema for revolution, joining the Japanese Red Army to organize terror attack. But the reason we remember Adachi here at Complete Communion is one film, titled AKA Serial Killer, we saw yesterday night for the first time, even if the movie was released in 1969.

Masahiko Togashi - Mototeru Takagi "Isolation"
AKA Serial Killer was the film that defined the 'landscape theory' for which he is credited as one of the founders, but that has many followers in Europe – the most famous are Jean Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet: it is a radical Marxist theory stating that the landscape is a pure expression of the dominand political power. In showing the landscape, we show different degrees of alienation.

To demonstrate this theory, Adachi focuses on the story of Norio Nagayama, a 19 year old boy convicted for the murders of four people in four different Japanese cities. Adachi narrates with his own voice the life of Nagayama, while the images show landscapes of the places in which the killer lived.

This way, the movie is an act of accusation of the alienation that forced Nagayama to become an assassin. To help this, the movie is provided of a beautiful, sharp soundtrack of free jazz. The musicians involved are Masahiko Togashi (drums, vibraphone, marimba, timpani, percussions) and Mototeru Takagi (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet).

The music from the movie was collected in 1969 in a record titled Isolation (Take One Records), reissued in 2000 by Columbia and in 2005 by Bridge. There's lot of space in it, a meditative atmosphere broken by the saxophones and their cries. But it's the mix of images and music in the film by Adachi that creates a fascinating documentary of an era, an era in which the arts were all at the service of the revolution, of social change, and it is this era that we want to celebrate with this post, inviting all of you to enjoy both the music and the movie.  

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