Iris: A Journal of Theory on Image and Sound no. 16 (Spring 1993), with Kenneth Ruoff, 115-126.

Filming at the Margins: The Documentaries of Hara Kazuo

I make bitter films. I hate mainstream society.

-Hara Kazuo.1

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (Yukiyukite shingun, 1987), a highly original and controversial film, introduced a major talent in international cinema, the Japanese documentarist Hara Kazuo. With the release of this film, Hara was awarded the New Director Prize from the Directors Guild of Japan. For a documentary, it drew unusually large audiences in Japan, where it was also the object of significant critical commentary, including a collection of articles by fifty-five critics from various publications.2

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On traces the efforts of Okuzaki Kenzõ to chronicle war crimes, including murder and cannibalism, committed by Japanese soldiers in occupied New Guinea during World War II. Okuzaki, who is infamous in Japan for having slung marbles at Emperor Hirohito in 1969, repeatedly criticizes the emperor during the course of the film, thus challenging one of the strongest taboos in Japan. For this reason Hara's film has never been shown on Japanese television, and major movie studios were afraid to distribute it.3 This provocative work was not Hara's first film, nor his first brush with controversy.

Hara's first feature, Goodbye CP (Sayonara CP, 1972), made in collaboration with a group of individuals with cerebral palsy, shocked audiences with its images of physical disabilities; critics accused Hara of sadism for his stark portrayal of the handicapped. Two years later, he was labeled a masochist for Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974, (Kyokushiteki erosu koiuta 1974, 1974), a film about his stormy relationship with his ex-wife, a radical feminist. Hara's latest film, currently in production, explores the intimate sexual relations of short story writer Inoue Mitsuharu.

By exploring taboo subjects, Hara's films deliberately raise ethical questions about representation and responsibility. Unlike most documentary filmmakers, Hara collabo-


rates extensively with the subjects on the making of his films. Hara prefers to make "action documentaries," films that have strong narratives, dramatic encounters, and characters who struggle against adversity. Hara cites such films as Batman and Superman as his models.4 Like his compatriot, Imamura Shõhei, for whom he has worked as an assistant cameraman, Hara portrays contemporary Japanese society and history through the lives of radicals, outcasts, and marginals.

A Civil Rights Agenda: Goodbye CP

Goodbye CP challenges taboos about representations of handicapped people, in particular the shame associated with physical differences. In a street in downtown Yokohama the main protagonist, Yokota Hiroshi, proudly displays his naked body. Hara emphasizes this kind of scene, stating, "It is difficult to look at handicapped people's bodies so that's what I wanted to show."5 Hara allows the disabled to speak for themselves as participants rather than as victims; as Yokota says, "Pity, I can do without." Goodbye CP does not encourage a facile empathy with the plight of people with disabilities but rather forces viewers to confront their own fears and misgivings.

As would be the case with Hara's later films, the making of Goodbye CP generates considerable controversy. Yokota's wife Yoshiko, also disabled, argues that the filming undermines their attempts to join mainstream society. Yokota, however, wants to assert his right to be different, to crawl around town on all fours rather than use a wheelchair. Yoshiko threatens divorce if her husband continues his participation, contending that Hara is portraying him as a freak. Hearing of Yokota's intention to drop out of the project, his peers show up at their apartment and encourage him to stand up to his wife. A harsh battle ensues between Yoshiko and her husband in which she also lashes out at the filmmaker, stating, "This is an invasion of the home." Hara includes this argument in the film itself, generating debate about the process, and the ethics, of representation.

Goodbye CP had a substantial impact in the arena of social services, redefining the ways in which people with disabilities were treated and represented in Japan. Hara was repeatedly invited to speak at conferences of social workers charged with the care of handicapped people. After the film's release, both Hara and Kobayashi Sachiko, the producer of Hara's three films, authored articles calling for changes in the treatment of the handicapped, criticizing state interference in the question of whether disabled individuals should bear children.6

The Personal is Political: Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974

Hara's Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 explores issues of intimate family relationships, privacy, gender roles, and sexuality, subjects that also became topical in


American documentary film in the 1970s. In the course of the film, Hara follows the activities of his ex-wife Takeda Miyuki, a radical feminist who published numerous articles on women's issues in the late 1960s and early 1970s.7 Takeda has an affair with a woman, conceives a child with an African-American soldier stationed in Okinawa, (in a phone conversation, her mother suggests that she kill the child), starts a daycare center for prostitutes, distributes pamphlets to prostitutes (which leads to Hara being beaten by gangsters), joins a feminist commune, and works as a stripper in a GI bar, all the while arguing with Hara and his lover, Kobayashi, the sound recordist and producer of the film.

The confessional tone of Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 startled audiences in Japan, just as similar experiments in American documentary film did in the United States. Craig Gilbert's twelve-episode PBS series An American Family (1973) focused on the controversial topics of divorce and sexuality.8 Early feminist films, such as Joyce Chopra's Joyce at 34 (1972), Amalie Rothschild's Nana, Mom, and Me (1974), and Martha Coolidge's Not a Pretty Picture (1975), explored issues of gender, abortion, and rape. In his first-person Diaries, 1971-1976 (1981), Ed Pincus examined the politics of everyday life; Jane Pincus, the star of Diaries, was one of the editors of Our Bodies Ourselves.

Like Pincus and other American documentarists influenced by the women's movement, Hara, in Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974, looks for signs of social change in his personal life, stating, "At the time, there was much talk of family-imperialism [kazoku teikokushugi]. One of the strong sentiments of the time was that family-imperialism should be destroyed." Hara suggests that the Japanese family structure mirrors the structure of Japanese society, that the "family system" [kazoku seido] and the "emperor system" [tennõsei] reinforce one another. "I thought that if I could put my own family under the camera, all our emotions, our privacy," Hara explains, "I wondered if I might break taboos about the family."9 Hara includes the year of the film's release in the title to accentuate the historical context.

Hara states in voice-over that "the only way to keep the relationship was to make a film." Here, as in Ross McElwee's Sherman's March (1985), the camera offers a bridge to intimate contact with others, a pretext for interaction. The camera is not a passive recorder of reality, but rather provokes certain encounters, a strategy that Hara explores in all of his films. Hara states, "I am not the type of director to shoot something just happening [like a demonstration], but rather I like to make something happen and then shoot it."10 Hara's documentaries are virtual collaborations--along the lines of the ethnographic fictions of Jean Rouch such as Me, a Black (Moi, un noir, 1957) and Little by Little (Petit à petit, 1969)--in which Hara encourages the subjects to act out their lives for the camera.

Hara himself appears in Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974; in fact, when we first see him, he is crying, obviously distressed by his conversation with his ex-wife.


Throughout the film, Takeda accuses the filmmaker of all kinds of personal shortcomings. She comments to Kobayashi about Hara, "He's only after your body. He's certainly not good in bed." Takeda even questions the viability of the film project, and Hara's competence as a filmmaker, a common scene in Hara's oeuvre, "You can't make a good film out of this squalor." The filmmaker confesses his own anxieties in voice-over during a sequence of Takeda giving birth without medical assistance in his apartment, "I was struck at how sudden it was. I was the one upset, soaked in sweat, I got the focus wrong." Few Japanese films have ever shown a woman giving birth, another taboo that Hara willingly transgresses.

Like many avant-garde films, Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 ignores conventions of cinematic style. The sound is never actually synchronous with the grainy black-and-white scenes; in many instances there is a radical disjunction between the location-recorded sound and the images. Like Jonas Mekas' Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1972), Hara's film has a strong home movie flavor accentuated by jump cuts, the lack of establishing shots, flash frames, first-person voice-over, and a handheld camera, although Hara uses relatively long takes as opposed to Mekas' fragmentation of time and space. The absence of synchronous sound creates a feeling of dislocation and loss. Hara's voice-over has the same halting, emotional tone as Mekas' narration in Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania.11 Mekas' film was commented on in Tokyo when it was shown there in 1973 and critics discussed Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 in relation to Mekas' autobiographical journey to his native land.

Shortly after Hara commences filming his ex-wife, she decides to move to Okinawa. During the postwar era, the Japanese government, while maintaining its claim to sovereignty over Okinawa, elaborated an unspoken policy of sacrificing the island to the U.S. military to minimize American influence on the mainland. The economy of the island was dominated by the American presence, which included some 50,000 troops at the height of the Vietnam war. In 1972, the year that Hara began filming, Okinawa was officially returned to Japan, but the large American military presence has continued through the present. Many of the characters who appear in the film work as prostitutes and hostesses in GI bars. While the U.S. presence is never addressed in a global perspective, it invades the everyday lives of the characters in Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974. (Curiously, the war in Vietnam is never mentioned, although many of the soldiers hanging out in bars and apartments were not far from the combat zone.) Like Imamura's Pigs and Battleships (Buta to gunkan, 1961), Hara's film paints a savage portrait of a port town corrupted by the American naval presence.

After Takeda mentions her intention to move to Okinawa, the scene shifts to a bar frequented by African-American soldiers. The soldiers dance to the music of James Brown and pose for a portrait, giving the black power salute of the Black Panthers. Hara then focuses on the character of "Chichi, a 14-year-old Okinawa girl," already a


prostitute, as an intertitle states. Later, we see her in bed with an American soldier. Hara punctuates the narrative with letters he receives in Tokyo from Takeda in Okinawa. One letter announces that she is pregnant and the next scene shows her struggling to speak English with Paul, an African-American GI. Takeda seems particularly excited about the possibility of giving birth to a mixed-race child, another controversial subject in Japan. Like Imamura in History of Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess (Nippon sengoshi: Madamu Onboro no seikatsu, 1970), Karayuki-san, the Making of a Prostitute (Karayuki-san, 1973), and Matsuo the Untamed Comes Home (Muhõ Matsu kokyõ ni kaeru, 1974), Hara makes films about outsiders who challenge the mainstream views of Japanese history and society.

The Memory of the War: The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On explores Japanese memories of WWII, forcing repressed events into consciousness. Not since Ichikawa Kon's Fires on the Plains (Nobi, 1959) has a Japanese film dealt so frankly with the issues of cannibalism, the abuse of Japanese soldiers by their officers, and desertion in the Imperial Army during the war in the Pacific. No Japanese film has ever confronted the issue of the war responsibility of the emperor so relentlessly, with the exception of The Tragedy of Japan (Nippon no higeki, 1946), a historical documentary banned by American occupation authorities shortly after its release for suggesting that Emperor Hirohito be put on trial as a war criminal.12

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On focuses on a man who struggles almost single-handedly to challenge the claim that Emperor Hirohito bears no war responsibility. Immediately after the war, American occupying forces decided to retain the emperor, who could easily have been put on trial for war crimes in Asia, as the "symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." The image of the emperor was consciously managed to present him as a man of peace who was the victim of a small group of militarist adventurers. Imperial taboos prevented discussion of the emperor's role in the militarization of Japan.13 Hara was intrigued by Okuzaki Kenzõ because, while Japanese intellectuals debated the relevance of the emperor system and the morality of individual and collective responsibility for war crimes, Okuzaki actually took direct action against the emperor.

Okuzaki remains steadfastly attached to a series of particular events that occurred in New Guinea at the end of the Second World War. He obstinately implicates Emperor Hirohito whenever possible in the film, denouncing him as "the most cowardly man in Japan" and "a symbol of ignorance and irresponsibility." As in Kurosawa Akira's Record of a Living Being (Ikimono no kiroku, 1955), the main character's mad obsession with the war disturbs the surface calm of the present. Okuzaki had already spent years


in prison, in one instance for throwing marbles at the emperor. In his fanatical pursuit of the truth, Okuzaki represents a kind of comic anti-hero. He is a character without psychological depth, completely animated by duty to a higher goal. Hara, for example, doesn't explore the roots of Okuzaki's erratic behavior in his family history; we know virtually nothing about him at the end of the film.

Okuzaki crisscrosses the Japanese mainland in search of his former comrades and their stories of the war. Hara keeps the viewer aware of the national scope of the drama by detailing the locations in the intertitles: Fukaya, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Okayama, Yamanashi, Kobe, and Shimane. Okuzaki retains a healthy notion of individual responsibility vis-a-vis the emperor and the soldiers who committed war crimes in New Guinea. When Seo Yukio claims that "In the army orders always came first," Okuzaki beats him to the ground. Takami Minoru reiterates this line of reasoning, "An order is an order, we had to obey." Okuzaki brushes aside the veterans' appeals to military hierarchy, while at the same time recognizing that superior officers bear special responsibilities for actions taken in their names, "I'm accusing the emperor for the same reason. He was responsible as the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Army. But he didn't assume responsibility." When Okuzaki makes a similar accusation against uniformed guards outside the Hiroshima prison, whom he calls "robots" for their attachment to regulations, one cannot help but recall the equivocations of Nazi officials at the Nuremberg trials.

A radical empiricist, Okuzaki remains fixated on the circumstances of specific war crimes in New Guinea, hoping to make the central facts of what happened public knowledge. In particular, he seeks to unearth the facts of two different cases involving the killing of Japanese soldiers for desertion twenty-three days after the end of the war. The ex-sergeant Hara Toshio hesitates when Okuzaki asks him about the events of forty years ago, claiming "My memories have faded after many years." In the course of Okuzaki's investigation, the veterans reveal enough evidence to convince the viewer that three Japanese privates were actually executed, on trumped up charges, to be cannibalized by their superiors. Okuzaki pieces together the traces of the illegal executions by an obstinate attention to the exact details of how many bullets were fired, where the principals were standing, and the direction in which the bodies fell. Like the woman in Alain Resnais' Hiroshima, mon amour (1959), Okuzaki refuses to live in the present, to forget, to get on with his life as so many of the other veterans have done. He remains resolutely, even courageously, stuck in the past.

Although The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On might be called a historical documentary, the film clings tenaciously to the present, rather than the past. Hara explores the memory of the war, the resonance of the war years in the present, rather than the past per se, "What I wanted to do was to trace how the war survives in Japanese society today."14 Most historical documentaries, such as Henry Hampton's Eyes on the Prize (1988) on the American civil rights movement, use extensive archival footage,


interviews with eyewitnesses, and authoritative voice-over commentary; many also include interviews with scholars and journalists.

Hara resists the temptations of this didactic form, focusing his story on the present day activities of Okuzaki and the reactions that he provokes in others. Although Okuzaki frequently refers to the emperor, Hara never cuts to footage or photographs of him. Nor is there any reference whatsoever to the atomic bomb, an unusual omission for a Japanese film about World War II, especially since Okuzaki visits Hiroshima repeatedly. Occasional photographs of soldiers appear, but they are found in the homes of the families of the victims whom Okuzaki visits. Like Claude Lanzmann, whose nine-and-a-half-hour epic Shoah (1985) chronicles the history of the Holocaust in Europe, Hara focuses on the living memory of the war, not in the past as history. Through synchronous sound interviews and images of the concentration camps as they exist forty years after the war, Lanzmann anchors his film in the present, the here and now, to redeem the past and give the dead "an everlasting name."15

In The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On, Okuzaki transgresses social norms in ways that are simultaneously disturbing and amusing. The film opens with a wedding in which Okuzaki serves as the go-between. Hara shoots from the level of the seated participants in a parody of the film style of Ozu Yasujirõ. Okuzaki's anti-establishment discourse sounds oddly out of place in the solemn context of a wedding ritual, "Maybe this country means a lot to you but judging from my experience not only Japan but any other country is a wall between men. It stops them from joining each other. It's a big wall. I think a family is another wall. It isolates human beings from each other. It cuts ties. It's against divine law. So I attack it." Hara initially conceived of shooting the film in a static, contemplative, style, as a contrast to his earlier works, but his plans changed as he struggled to keep up with his energetic protagonist.

Okuzaki's actions are so outrageous, so far beyond conventional expectations, that they are often humorous. Many of the veterans have chosen lives of relative obscurity, some have even changed their names. Okuzaki shows up at their houses uninvited, in one instance yelling "Happy New Year" as he enters. Okuzaki says to Takami, "Your wife seems to dislike making a film like this. I understand how she feels but does she know what it's all about?" The former member of the 36th Engineering Corps admits that his wife knows nothing about his war-time experiences. During the first interrogation that Okuzaki conducts in the film, with the ex-sergeant Hara Toshio, the police arrive, harboring the impression that the veteran is sequestered against his will. Okuzaki invites them in, "You may arrest me. Come in. Who are you? You should learn more about life, about the war as a real story." Okuzaki remains in control throughout this scene, imploring one of the officers to get out of the way of the camera. In two instances, Okuzaki attacks elderly veterans who refuse to disclose their actions during the war. Having already spent over ten years in prison, Okuzaki doesn't fear the consequences


of his actions. In the last encounter, he actually telephones the police, in a scene that reaches tragicomic proportions.

Throughout The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On, the viewer questions Okuzaki's sanity, although the filmmaker withholds judgment. Hara allows Okuzaki to state his case with conviction, even if he is insane. After Okuzaki has wrestled Seo Yukio, another WWII veteran, to the ground, he implores him to speak openly of the past. Seo responds that he's never even met him before, to which Okuzaki replies, "I gave you my card," as if that action justifies his violent and insistent behavior. In Kobe, Okuzaki bursts into a restaurant owned by the family of another veteran of the New Guinea campaign. When the owners quite reasonably request that he leave, Okuzaki shouts, "All you want is money! These people lost their brothers. Which is more important? Forget about money!" Clearly, from Okuzaki's point of view, the commercialism of modern Japan is no compensation for the sins of the past.

Okuzaki also visits several relatives of the victims, some of whom accompany him on his quest for confessions from the veterans. When the relatives decline to participate further, Okuzaki actually casts others in their roles. He enlists the help of friends to impersonate the relatives of the soldiers who were murdered, telling them, "Today you'll be acting not as my wife but as Yoshizawa's sister. You're the relatives of the two victims. Act well. Let me do the talking." Whereas Okuzaki seems almost religiously attached to literal facts in his investigation of the past, he reveals himself as an opportunist in his search, willing to stage certain actions in his pursuit of the truth. Later, Okuzaki gets support from another opponent of the emperor system, stating, "I asked Mr. Oshima to act as the victim's brother. I think his appearance will make the ex-sergeant talk." These scenes mirror Hara's interactive method of documentary filmmaking, in which characters perform their lives for the camera. Our knowledge that the "relatives" are merely stand-ins complicates our reactions to the encounters that follow, blurring the distinctions between fiction and non-fiction.

Okuzaki's involvement in the making of the film was so substantial that he, in fact, considers himself to be the director as well as the star of the film. He approached Imamura Shõhei about directing a film about his life. Imamura suggested the project to Hara and arranged for the two men to meet. Okuzaki eventually provided some of the production funds for the movie. Throughout the production, Hara discussed possible scenes with his protagonist. At one point, Okuzaki disclosed his intentions to murder one of the veterans, hoping that Hara would consent to filming the homicide. When Hara mentioned his misgivings, Okuzaki told him, "You're no good." From prison, Okuzaki even wrote his own review of the movie, explaining the motivations of his actions.16

Although Hara takes no direct editorial stand on the events that occur in The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On, there is no pretense that the camera is not there, as in the documentaries of Frederick Wiseman. On the contrary, throughout the film, the characters address the camera directly, refer to the camera in passing, bow to the


filmmakers, take pictures of the camera, and yell at the camera. At the Hiroshima prison, one of the guards places his hand over the camera lens, insisting that Hara stop filming. When Okuzaki presents Takami with a gift, Takami also bows in thanks to the camera crew in the room. When a policeman inadvertently blocks the camera's view of Okuzaki's encounter with Hara Toshio, Okuzaki asks him to move, "I want the camera. We came here to shoot." Trying to evade Okuzaki's relentless line of questioning, the ex-sergeant says, "If people knew they were executed for desertion, you'd have to bear the shame as their families. The camera's rolling. People will see the film and look down on you." Okuzaki refuses this gambit and retorts, motioning to the camera, "They'll think you're hiding the truth." In the encounter with Captain Koshimizu, who gave the order for the illegal execution--the only interview in which Okuzaki fails to obtain even a partial admission of guilt--Koshimizu's wife glides across the background and takes a picture of the scene, including Hara's camera.

In the last encounter in the film, Okuzaki articulates his rationale for making the film, "To reveal the misery of the war will keep the world free from war. They killed a man but reported that he died from disease. The world doesn't know the real face of war." In the ensuing melee, Okuzaki kicks ex-sergeant Yamada Kichitarõ repeatedly. Yamada says angrily to the camera, "You forgot I helped you," to which his wife replies, "Don't blame them." We are reminded of the precarious nature of documentary filmmaking in an intertitle, "March, 1983, Okuzaki went to New Guinea. The film that recorded his activities on location was confiscated there." Many reviewers questioned Hara's ethics, for while the presence of the camera is fully acknowledged, the filmmaker fails to intervene in those scenes in which some restraint on Okuzaki's actions seems necessary. At those instances in which Okuzaki beats his interviewees, Hara holds back and observes the interaction with detachment, a voyeuristic posture that makes the viewer an inadvertent witness to violence.

The Sorrow and The Emperor: The Reception of Yukiyukite shingun

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On provoked substantial controversy in Japan when it was released in a small theater in Tokyo. Commercial distributors refused to handle the film, which raised disconcerting issues of imperial war-time responsibility and historical memory, fearing it would trigger right-wing attacks. Viewers from the war generation were generally stunned by the film, shocked by the audacity of Okuzaki's actions. Whereas the mass media had treated Okuzaki as a lunatic whose actions were beyond comprehension, The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On forced viewers to evaluate Okuzaki's motives without a priori condemnation. For many younger viewers, born after the war, Okuzaki emerged as a hero, a man who refuses to compromise his ideals. Younger Japanese have been less supportive of official attempts


to regulate the dignity of the imperial house, so Okuzaki's attacks on the figure of the emperor didn't offend them. The reception of the film bears some comparison to the reactions to Marcel Ophuls' documentary about France during the German occupation, The Sorrow and the Pity (Le Chagrin et la pitié).

In 1971, The Sorrow and the Pity opened in a small art theater in the Latin quarter in Paris, gradually reaching a sizable audience of students and intellectuals in the capital. The film offended almost all of the established power blocs in France; the Communist Party complained that their contribution to the resistance was under-emphasized while the Gaullists felt that simply raising the issue of collaboration was "unpatriotic."17 In the aftermath of 1968, however, a substantial audience of disaffected students, workers, and intellectuals went to see Ophuls' film precisely because it subverted official versions of French history. The Sorrow and the Pity shattered the myth of a united French resistance, fighting to the last against the German occupation, while raising the issue of French complicity in the Holocaust. As Henry Rousso has shown in The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944, Ophuls' film had a tremendous impact on the historical image of France during the occupation, influencing fiction films of the 1970s to look back on the dark years of the war.18

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On may play a role in opening a breach in representations of WWII Japan. When Emperor Hirohito fell sick in 1988, the issue of his war responsibility resurfaced and was hotly debated.19 Japanese fiction films about the war era typically portray the Japanese as helpless victims, especially as victims of the atomic bombing, as though the Pacific War began in August 1945 instead of in the 1930s when Japan waged a brutal imperialist war against China. In popular historical memory, those responsible for the war are the militarists, a small group of individuals at the top of Japan's wartime hierarchy, but excluding the emperor. Many Japanese believe the militarists victimized the country by having started, waged, and lost the war.

Hara's movie indicts the emperor, and both he and Kobayashi, the producer, have expressed their desire to tell a different history of the war years. Kobayashi stated to The Japan Times after The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On was released, "I feel angry that we are not informed what exactly happened in the war. And the ministries and those concerned are reluctant to give information. When I think of the feelings of the people of Asia, I regret very much to see too many movies which praise the war."20 Hara has expressed interest in making a film about the brutal treatment of Asian workers who built the Burma-Siam railroad during the war.

Recent films by Kurosawa and, uncharacteristically, Imamura focus on the image of Japanese as victims of the war, in particular those lives lost in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Both Rhapsody in August (Hachigatsu no kyõshikyoku, 1991) and Black Rain (Kuroi ame, 1988), respectively, tell of the lingering effects of the bomb on families in the post-war period. Rhapsody in August, in particular, was


criticized for reinforcing the "victim's consciousness" (higai-ishiki). Hara worked as an assistant director on one of the few recent films to look at atrocities committed by Japanese authorities in the course of the war, Kumai Kei's Sea and Poison (Umi to dokuyaku, 1986). Sea and Poison details medical experiments on human beings undertaken with military supervision at the University of Kyushu in the spring of 1945.

There is a reluctance on the part of Japanese directors, producers, and audiences to confront the more accurate historical image of the brutality of Japan's endeavors throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. By chronicling the activities of a protester who challenges the status quo, The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On remains one of the lone voices breaking the silence on the war years. The current crisis in Japanese feature filmmaking may conspire to keep others from looking at the war in light of recent revelations about atrocities and war crimes. Like Ophuls' landmark documentary, however, Hara Kazuo's The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On may embolden some writers and filmmakers to come to terms with "the sorrow and the pity" of Japan's activities during the Second World War.


1. Ruoff, K., and Ruoff, J. (1993), "Japan's Outlaw Filmmaker: An Interview with Hara Kazuo," Iris: A Journal of Theory on Image and Sound, Image Theory, Image Culture, and Contemporary Japan, N. 16, p. 6. We would like to thank Hara Kazuo and Kobayashi Sachiko for answering our questions about their work. In addition, we are grateful to Dudley Andrew and Jean Linscott for comments on an earlier version of this essay. A shorter version was presented at the Society for Cinema Studies Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 11-14, 1993 and at the Second Annual Graduate Student Conference on East Asia at Columbia University, February 26-27, 1993. (back)

2. Matsuda, M., and Takahashi, T., Eds., (1988), Gunron yukiyukite shingun, Tokyo: Tõgosha. (back)

3. Ruoff, K. (1993), p. 14. (back)

4. Ruoff, K. (1993), p. 9. (back)

5. Ruoff, K. (1993), p. 17. (back)

6. Kobayashi, S. (May 1973), "Atte mo ii sonzai nan-da," Biiin, p. 5; and Hara, K. (July 1973), "Shintai no kaihõ ni koso," Gendai tenbõ, pp. 168-173. (back)

7. See Takeda, M. (December 1969), "Ai suru hito no ko de mo zettai ni umanai," Fujin kõron, pp. 166-169, and Takeda, M. (July 1971), "Umanai jiyü, umu jiyü no ryõtaiken," Fujin kõron, pp. 216-219. (back)

8. Ruoff, J. (1992), "Conventions of Sound in Documentary," in Rick Altman (Ed.), Sound Theory/Sound Practice, New York: Routledge, Chapman, and Hall, pp. 217-234. (back)

9. Ruoff, K. (1993), p. 15. (back)

10. Ruoff, K. (1993), p. 8. (back)

11. Ruoff, J. (1991), "Home Movies of the Avant-Garde: Jonas Mekas and the New York Art World," Cinema Journal, 30(3), p. 18. (back)

12. Hirano, K. (1988), "The Japanese Tragedy: Film Censorship and the American Occupation," Radical History Review, 41, pp. 67-92. (back)

13. Ruoff, K. (1991), "Taboo or Not Taboo," Unpublished M.A. Thesis, History Department, Columbia University, New York. (back)

14. Ruoff, K. (1993), p. 9. (back)

15. Lanzmann, C. (Fall/Winter 1980), "From the Holocaust to the Holocaust," Telos, 137-43, p. 41. (back)

16. Okuzaki, K. (December 1, 1987), "Yukiyukite shingun o mita shujinkõ no kansõ," Kinema junpõ, reprinted in Matsuda and Takahashi, Gunron yukiyukite shingun, pp. 353-365. (back)

17. Hoffmann, S. (1972), "In the Looking Glass," in Mireille Johnston (Ed.), The Sorrow and the Pity: A Film By Marcel Ophuls, New York: Outerbridge and Lazard, Inc., p. XIII. (back)

18. Rousso, H. (1991), The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 100-14. (back)

19. Ruoff, K. (1991), pp. 45-57. (back)

20. Ogihara, M. (August 4, 1987), "The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On," The Japan Times, p. 11. (back)


Filmer en marge examine les films de Hara Kazuo, le documentariste japonais. A la manière des documentaires d'Imamura Shohei, les films de Hara dépeignent l'histoire de la société japonaise à travers les marginaux, les parias et les radicaux. Goodbye CP (1972) suit les activités d'un groupe d'hommes atteints de paralysie cérébrale alors que Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 explore la relation entre Hara et son ex-femme, une féministe d'extrême gauche. The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (1987) présente un ancien combattant renégat qui fait une enquête privée sur les crimes de guerre commis pars les soldats japonais pendant le conflit du Pacifique. Contrairement à la plupart des réalisateurs de films documentaires, Hara établit un dialogue avec ses sujets pendant le tournage et ne se contente pas d'enregistrer simplement les événements mais a en fait tendence à les catalyser.




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