128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Second Run and the films on them.
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Bikey
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Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#26 Post by Bikey » Wed Dec 18, 2019 6:31 am

"THE EMPEROR'S NAKED ARMY MARCHES ON must be seen to be fully believed.... Second Run's world premiere Blu-ray is another notch in the label's belt and a nifty expansion of its usual focus."
Clydefro at CineOutsider

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Bikey
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Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#27 Post by Bikey » Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:37 am

"A groundbreaking work, one whose powerful – and undeniably strange – impact has in no way diminished over the years: it continues to shine an unexpected light both on Japanese society and on the documentary form itself."
The Arts Desk

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The Elegant Dandy Fop
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Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#28 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Sat Jan 25, 2020 10:54 pm

I own numerous Second Run DVDs, but for whatever reason, hadn’t picked up their Blu-rays until this. It’s been over a decade since I saw the Facets DVD (a label that still gives me flashbacks to interlacing), but I assume it can’t compare to this. Seeing features shot on 16mm and then transferred digitally is always a joy the small image always looks wonderful in HD.

As for the film itself, it’s like the most heart wrenching, two hour YouTube cringe compilation of all time. It’s scenes makes you squirm in it’s uncomfortableness and Kenzo Okuzaki’s complete lack of manners, his neurotic way of speaking (from what little Japanese I’ve learned) and his outbursts of violence leave me feeling like I need to get a breathe of fresh air. I believe on my first viewing years ago, he seemed to be an angry man, but now I see him as insane angry man. There’s also a strange lack of political ideology as he seems to have contempt for the ultra right-wing factions (especially seen in his contempt for the emperor) and communists, but prays at Yasukuni Shrine for departed soldiers, a still controversial stance in 2020. I’m not a fan of documentaries, but this is transcendent in the way Frederick Wiseman and Shohei Imamura’s documentaries are. A marvelous film that forces you to confront the ugliness of war in peace time banality.

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barryconvex
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Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#29 Post by barryconvex » Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:27 am

Only a voluminous Ken Burns type film could possibly capture all this man's eccentricities (eccentricities is putting it politely) so Hara pares things down, focusing on the murder of two low level Japanese soldiers from Okuzaki's former unit. What happened exactly will never be fully known but Okuzaki believes they were executed after the war had been concluded for purposes of cannibalism. Through interrogations of his former brothers in arms Okuzaki seeks to uncover the truth and the entire film is filtered through his deluded messianic complex and violent streak as he tracks down those he holds responsible. The objects of his greatest contempt (after the emperor himself) are his commanding officers who resorted to nearly unspeakable atrocities when they were trapped without resources in New Guinea forty years earlier. It's not the violence that seems to bother Okuzaki but that these men were never punished for their misdeeds. Here's a man who has not only been convicted of murder himself, he openly advocates the killing of the Japanese emperor and will attempt another murder after filming ends. In his mind there is no contradiction between his methods and the methods used by his former military leaders: he has admitted to his crimes and paid for them by spending thirteen years in jail, solidifying his sense of superiority to his former comrades, and indeed "proving he's a better person" than them.

What does he really hope to achieve here? His methods ultimately yield results but the soldiers who committed the crimes are immune from prosecution. I'm not so sure he's thought that far ahead and although he refers to himself at various times as a messenger of God sent to find out the truth, someone on a mission to bring peace to the spirits of the dead and the person who will insure the younger generation understands what happened so it will not be repeated he seems more interested in flexing the muscles of his own self righteousness. His hours of badgering hapless witnesses a golden opportunity to reassure himself that he's on the side of the just. Any meaning Okuzaki hopes to obtain from these confessions is secondary to the lengths he goes to in getting them, pummeling one feeble older man recently out of surgery once Okuzaki has had his fill of his evasion and untruths. On top of that, in an effort to ratchet up the guilt, he brings relatives of the fallen soldiers to sit with him during these confrontations. When they later drop out due to what Okuzaki calls a lack of commitment (which in reality is probably a desire to not spend anymore time around Okuzaki), he enlists his wife and an anarchist friend to impersonate grieving family members.

In the early 80s Japan as a whole seemed unwilling to accept or even recognize what its soldiers had to do to survive in the waning days of the war. The tales of cannibalism heard here are probably too shocking for any civilized society to fully comprehend and it's understandable why the soldiers had to resort to it and also why they were swept under the rug of history. As a man who suffered through the lowest circles of hell Okuzaki is understandably damaged from his experiences on New Guinea. As a character in a film, someone we're left to examine through the lens of his psychoses, I wondered if Hara wasn't partially complicit in validating this man's worst impulses. I don't think he is, considering that Okuzaki committed violent crimes before and after filming as well as welcoming any chance to have his crusade documented. But even with Hara's fly on the wall approach to filming Okuzaki, on a certain level, this is still car crash cinema. It's utterly engrossing but I felt a twinge of exploitation while watching this obviously mentally ill man. It must be said however, that what Hara has ultimately presented, without bias or interference, is a portrait of a man much too strange to dwell within the realms of fiction, the only way to believe such a person could exist is to witness him as he's shown here. Okuzaki is one of the cinema's great iconoclasts and his story is horrible and glorious.

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Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#30 Post by Calvin » Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:21 am

Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 and Sennan Asbestos Disaster are also credited to Second Run in the upcoming ICA retrospective

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tenia
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Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#31 Post by tenia » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:06 am

Actually, all four seem to be credited to Second Run.

Calvin
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Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#32 Post by Calvin » Wed Feb 05, 2020 5:26 pm

tenia wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:06 am
Actually, all four seem to be credited to Second Run.
Not on their individual pages, as far as I can see?

Second Run have confirmed that further Hara releases are coming this year

I finally got round to watching this release this week and can only echo the positive reviews above. The film itself is remarkable and it's a relief to finally see it breathe in a new transfer. It's my favourite Second Run release in a long time.

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Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#33 Post by yoshimori » Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:16 am

Here's hoping the 'further Hara' is Sayonara CP, iyam, one of the four or five greatest docs ever.

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tenia
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Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#34 Post by tenia » Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:30 am

Calvin wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 5:26 pm
tenia wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:06 am
Actually, all four seem to be credited to Second Run.
Not on their individual pages, as far as I can see?
I meant on the ICA page linked above : "A programme of four feature films from one of Japan’s most renowned documentary filmmakers, presented in partnership with Second Run."
So it reads like the 4 films are presented thanks to Second Run.

Calvin
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:12 am

Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#35 Post by Calvin » Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:07 am

tenia wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:30 am
Calvin wrote:
Wed Feb 05, 2020 5:26 pm
tenia wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:06 am
Actually, all four seem to be credited to Second Run.
Not on their individual pages, as far as I can see?
I meant on the ICA page linked above : "A programme of four feature films from one of Japan’s most renowned documentary filmmakers, presented in partnership with Second Run."
So it reads like the 4 films are presented thanks to Second Run.
If you click on the individual screening pages, Goodbye CP is the only one that doesn't have a 'Courtesy of Second Run' credit though this could easily be a mistake. It would certainly make more sense if it was!

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Bikey
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Re: 128 / BD 26 The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

#36 Post by Bikey » Fri Mar 27, 2020 7:02 am

"Few film collections and no documentary collections will be complete without this, a work that is both challenging and harrowing, a riveting character study and exposé, unveiling unspeakable criminality."

A new web-exclusive review from CINEASTE on Hara's EMPEROR'S NAKED ARMY MARCHES ON.

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