Shinjû: Ten no amijima | 心中天網島 | Double Suicide
DIRECTOR: Masahiro Shinoda | WRITERS: Monzaemon Chikamatsu, Masahiro Shinoda, Tôru Takemitsu, Taeko Tomioka | CAST: Kichiemon Nakamura, Shima Iwashita, Hôsei Komatsu, Yûsuke Takita, Kamatari Fujiwara, Yoshi Katô, Shizue Kawarazaki, Tokie Hidari | Japan
Double Suicide is Masahiro Shinoda’s film of Chikamatsu’s 1721 bunraku play The Love Suicides at Amijima but with live actors instead of puppets, although Shinoda retained the kuroko, the puppet/prop handlers dressed in black who you’re not supposed to notice. The movie is extraordinarily stylized and theatrical and not for a moment realistic. Except for the credit sequence, that is, which is shot backstage before a bunraku performance of the play featuring Shinoda himself, dressed as a kuroko, speaking to a producer on the phone about which locations would be best to use for shooting scenes in this movie. Whether it was intentional or not, Double Suicide provides the best case study for the power of Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt in action that I’ve ever seen. This is the real deal. A tour de force.
[For a great essay on Double Suicide, please see Matthew Dessem’s blog The Criterion Contraption.]