Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 9:00PM
Harvard Film Archive, 24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
These two longer form works reveal different but related sides of Terayama’s cinema: the performance-based corporeal work showcased in A Tale of Smallpox and the narrative reimagination of childhood and memory in Grass Labyrinth.
A Tale of Smallpox (Hosotan)
Directed by Shuji Terayama. With Keiko Niitaka, Yoko Ran, Takeshi Wakamatsu
Japan 1975, 16mm, color, 34 min
Grass Labyrinth (Kusa-meikyu)
Macabre and sexualized, Grass Labyrinth plunges into the subconscious of Akira, a teenager haunted by the desire to remember the lyrics of a song his absent mother once sung. Akira’s mother is framed yet inaccessible—withdrawing into water, paper screens, a tune that has lost its lyrics, and the mists and shadows of memory. The mother spins and works a loom, and binds her son with rope. Later, Akira is otherwise entangled with a nymphomaniac and a prostitute. Abandoned by his own mother, Terayama imbues the film with the phantasmagoria of his childhood, including the ghost tales of Aomori—recalled by a chorus in whiteface—and the experience of growing up in a house adjoining a cinema. His expressionistic projections are further amplified by composer J. A. Seazer’s portentous birdsong, wind chimes and operatic crescendos. Once writing that all dead people become words, Terayama wrestles with language and loss through this labyrinthine search for lyrics and the lost mother they represent.
Directed by Shuji Terayama. With Takeshi Wakamatsu, Hiroshi Mikami, Juzo Itami
Japan/France 1979, 16mm, color, 40 min. Japanese with English subtitles
Curated by Go Hirasawa and Julian Ross with Haden Guest.
Film descriptions by Haden Guest and Becca Voelcker.
Presented in partnership with Anthology Film Archives; National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and the George Eastman Museum, with the generous support of the Kinoshita Group. Special thanks: Theodore C. Bestor and Stacie Matsumoto—Reischauer Institute, Harvard; Hisashi Okajima, Akira Tochigi and Chizuru Usui—National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; the Japan Foundation; Jed Rapfogel—Anthology Film Archives; Julian Ross; Go Hirasawa.
Tickets go on sale 45 minutes prior to show time. The HFA does not do advance ticket sales.