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Film Review: A Fugitive From The Past (Japan, 1965) - 影評《飢餓海峽》Historical Meaning of 'Hunger Strait'

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

#FilmReview #AFugitiveFromThePast #影評 #飢餓海峽 #1965 #JapaneseCinema

FILE PHOTO: A Poster of A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965)  ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: A Poster of A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965) ©TOEI


''Any kind of social discrimination is to justify inequalities in class societies.''

A genuine masterpiece of film has its place in the entire historical context as a certain ideological reflection and consciousness of the ruling class at the time of production. This ensemble suspense thriller film A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965)'s historical meaning in the general context of Japanese society was never precisely pointed out by anyone until today due to its class sensitivity.

That is all about Japan's feudal caste, discrimination of Burakumin (originated in destitute peasants who abandoned their own agricultural fields as camp followers of feudal lords in "Age of Warring States'' during 1467 to 1615; ''Mura'' village people who are socially discriminated and demonised as 'dirt' because of their jobs like executioners, undertakers, workers in slaughterhouses, butchers, prostitutors or tanners and it's even rooted in ancestors/ethnicities, criminal records, religions etc.; a.k.a. ''Senmin'' which means hamlet / village people with "defilement" in Japanese; the opposite side, ''Heimin'' means ordinary citizens; another term for the discrimination is ''Hinin'' which mainly means beggars who are categorised as equilibrium with ''Senmin''; there is also a term ''Sanka'' which means non-agricultural drifters who lived in mountains and supposedly integrated into Burakumin) which is one of serious and centuries-long class discrimination in contemporary Japan.

It's exactly similar to racial and class discrimination by white supremacists against both Africans who taunted from ancestors' slavery-background and native Indians whose ancestors were butchered or ousted from native soil in US by white colonialists. This is the untold history of the ''promised land'' United States of America.

It's inevitable that class discrimination includes exclusion of targeted minorities from civilian rights, social access to basic necessities, and ethnic discrimination. The theory of evil human nature was discriminately applied on those poor village people in the class society for centuries. A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965) reflects the class bias among characters especially ''antagonistic'' detectives who don't willingly understand the issue.

FILE PHOTO: In the End of ACT2, Higashi-Maizuru police target Kyōichirō Tarumi (Rentarō Mikuni) ©TOEI

For instance, the second investigative unit under supervision of Higashi-Maizuru police chief Toshikichi Ogimura (played by Susumu Fujita), detective Iwata (Sadao Yagi) concludes his investigation on family registration of the protagonist Takichi Inugai aka Kyōichirō Tarumi (Rentarō Mikuni) as if extreme poverty of his birthplace made him an evil man who has no conscious of guilty of crime. This is apparently biased but Dir. Tomu Uchida had retired-detective Kichitarou Yumisaka (Jyunzaburou Ban) to point out that it can only be understandable for people who actually experienced extreme poverty.

The protagonist's birthplace is set to be typical ''Mura'', ''Buraku'' in rural Kyoto without the use of the specific term in this film overtly. Another protagonist, a prostitute from Shimokita, Aomori prefecture, Yae Sugito (Sachiko Hidari) is also born in ''Mura''. There were several ''Buraku'' of Ainu in Shimokita Peninsula, Aomori prefecture in real history.

FILE PHOTO: In the ACT1, in-depth Mise-en-scène, the protagonists Yae (L) and Inugai (R).   ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: In the ACT1, in-depth Mise-en-scène, the protagonists Yae (L) and Inugai (R). ©TOEI

Inugai and Yae have apparent features of ''Burakumin'' in this film. Furthermore, Hokkaido was not immune to ''Buraku'' discrimination (political epidemic) because Matsumae-han - Tokugawa Japan's northwest domain, a clan-ruled area in Matsumae, Ezo (present Hokkaido) - systematically imported ''Burakumin''. Therefore, Hokkaido is not excluded from this nationwide class discrimination.

Any Alfred Hitchcock's (1899-1980) ''master of suspense'' studio films have no in depth social consciousness and meticulous sensitivity like this one. This film is psychologically and historically deeply rooted in Japan's ''Mura'' society in its content.

This film just only refers Buraku as ''village'' (Mura in Japanese) due to its sensitive nature as a taboo (after the capitalist-feudalist reform of Japan, Meiji Restoration in 1868, Meiji government issued the decree which called Edict Abolishing Ignoble Classes in 1871, the official narrative of Japanese government is that there have been no longer any ignoble classes existed since then in Japan).

Unfortunately the social discrimination itself just has continued because originally labelled poor village classes got excluded from the integral society under the guise of ''assimilation''(Douwa in Japanese) policy in the post Meiji era. The hidden background is that the real opposite of ''Senmin'' or ''Hinin'' is royal family ''Kouzoku'' (Emperor's family) who are depicted as if born with supernatural nobility in terms of mythical metaphysical thought of class society deeply rooted in feudalistic tradition of Japan, therefore feudalistic class caste was not completely abolished in reality even under post war capitalism.

FILE PHOTO: Takichi Inugai aka Kyōichirō Tarumi (Rentarō Mikuni) in the end of ACT2. ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: Takichi Inugai aka Kyōichirō Tarumi (Rentarō Mikuni) in the end of ACT2. ©TOEI

The presence of both royal family and Burakumin is a proof of it. Furthermore Japanese family registration is fixed in ancestral home address (Koseki / Honseki in Japanese) thus it made easy for people to deduce the Burakumin membership. The protagonist of A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965), Takichi Inugai aka Kyōichirō Tarumi played by the most talented Japanese actor Rentarō Mikuni (1923-2013) who was really originated in Buraku thus he was a real class hero. This is why Dir. Tomu Uchida (1898-1970) recommended him to be the only proper cast candidate for the protagonist in the whole film industry. This film is all about Japanese class discrimination against Burakumin thus it is not simply a technical detective thriller of a Western dualist kind.

Audience without ''Buraku'' knowledge maybe hardly understand why Yae Sugito played by Sachiko Hidari (1930-2001) wails when she gets hired by the owner of the whorehouse in Kameido, Tokyo, Shinichi Motojima (played by Kouji Mitsui). The main reason is ''village'' people are more severely excluded from decent employment systematically than other working class people. For instance, the book "A Comprehensive List of Buraku Area Names" which circulated throughout Japan to prevent Buraku-related people from employment at major companies was fortunately exposed by the radical Buraku Liberation League (abbreviation: B.L.L.) in 1975.

As everybody knows, the present Japanese political system is constitutional monarchy which based on trans-constitutional presence of U.S.F.J. - a continuation of US occupational forces under U.S.–Japan Status of Forces Agreement - and still run by descendants of ex-A Class war criminals and monopoly capitalist syndicates who released and restored by G.H.Q. in 1947 as a result of the anti-democratic Reverse Course in Cold War.

In 1950s, Burakumin (human) rights movement, a kind of Burakumin liberation movement got social momentum that the major pressure group Buraku Liberation League was established and had pressured the Japanese government to make important concessions during 1960s and 1970s. This film is not a propaganda for any of the sides but it is only meant to be a reflection of social sins of that era and made out of the historical stage of development of Burakumin (human) rights movement. A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965)'s story is taken place from 1947 to 1957.

It is not only just a kind of class and racial apartheid but also it is based on living address. In fact, it is a combination of varieties of social discrimination within Japanese traditional societies almost throughout all over the Japanese territories (some may say it doesn't exist in Hokkaido, Tohoku region and Okinawa but there are another and similar kinds of ''Buraku''antagonism on Ainu people in Hokkaido, and ''Military Base'' discrimination ''Okinawa-sabetsu'' against Ryukyu people in Okinawa). Moreover Buraku-discrimination is inevitably nationwide due to demographic transitions and moves of fluid population around entire Japan.

One of typical shortcoming of film schools and filmmakers is that they abstract a work of art out of general context of capitalist economy. In other words, abstracts of art works don't exist within the capitalist society. What blind ''filmmakers'' must realise is that film as a commodity, its use value is none for capitalists. Its fictionality is nothing in terms of commodity exchange at market. That is just like any other commodities only abstractly mean ''exchange value'' - the only measure is socially necessary labour time for production of the commodity with social average of productivity for the production of the commodity - for capitalists in market economy and in general.

Namely, fictional reality is just fiction. A style of realism in fiction is also no greater than fiction in its nature. On the contrary, ''reality'' only exists in social actions. Film itself can't solve any social issues in reality. The solution must be found from outside of the command chain of commodity production. What film can do as a use value is to bring facts, viewpoints (''angles''), social issues into audiences' consciousness to trigger proper reactions to it in terms of journalism. Film also has pornographic function to comfort audiences' inner desire in terms of psychology. Both major social functions of film and film-related media are fully exploited by capitalists for their agendas.



Exposition: In September 1947, a strong typhoon (taifu #10) hits Hokkaido and topples a ship ''Seikan-renrakusen, Souunmaru'' which takes its route between Aomori prefecture and Hakodate, Hokkaido caused numerous casualties. Two ex-prisoners - Hachirou Numata (played by Itsuma Mogami) and Tadakichi Kijima (Mitsuo Ando)- who recently released from Abashiri prison commit a ''typhoon'' heist at a pawn shop in Iwanai town, and they also commit an arson in order to hide the crime. The arson at the pawn house further burns down the entire town. The two criminals try to escape from Hokkaido to mainland Japan with their innocent accompany Takichi Inugai aka Kyōichirō Tarumi (Rentarō Mikuni) who is originated in Buraku in Kyoto and repatriated from mainland China after the war.

Inciting Incident: Kijima kills Numata, and also tries murdering Inugai while the three disguised as a rescue team to go through the middle of the rescue operation by Hakodate authorities. Inugai is forced to do self-defence and necessarily kills Kijima and unethically takes money that the two robbed from the pawn house. Inugai decides burying everything about the two criminals and his own crime, misappropriation of the stolen money. Innugai successfully lands on Shimokita, Aomori prefecture by the boat, keeps wandering in mainland. Meanwhile, Hakodate police detective finds two mysterious corps during investigative process of collecting the deceased on the ship incident. Later identity of the two mysterious bodies suspected as Kijima and Numata by Iwanai police station report. Chief detective of Hakodate police Kichitarou Yumisaka (Jyunzaburou Ban) decides going to Shimokita, Aomori prefecture to search for the big guy Inugai who among the two criminals witnessed by a fisherman during the typhoon tragedy.

FILE PHOTO: Beginning of the tragedy, the protagonists Yae (L) and Inugai (R).   ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: Beginning of the tragedy, the protagonists Yae (L) and Inugai (R). ©TOEI

End of Act 1: Inugai accidentally meets a geisha, Yae Sugito (Sachiko Hidari) who just attended her deceased mother's second anniversary at the ''Mount Osore'' and returning to workplace by a mountain train to urban town of Shimokita, Oominato. Inugai and Yae develops a mutual relationship during the short journey, then he visits Yae as a guest before taking a train to leave there. Inugai gets more sympathetic on Yae's poverty status and leaves her spectacular amount of money to clear the debts of her family, then mysteriously disappears from her sight. In return, for personal obligation, Yae decides moving to Tokyo to thank him with his nail which trimmed by herself during the service along with the newspaper which Inugai put the money into it to handover to Yae in that room. Yumisaka comes and inquires Yae about ''big guy'' at Yunokawa spring but Yae lies about him in order to protect the benefactor Inugai. Then Yae leaves her father to go to Tokyo alone. After returning from Oominato, Yumisaka confirms the identity of the two corps as Kijima and Numata from images he received from HQ. His men can't find any suspect in entire Oominato town, thus it urges him to become highly suspicious about Yae's testimony which is an only testimony about ''big guy'' in Oominato. There is no hint, Yumisaka decides to go after Yae to find Inugai according to his instinct.


FILE PHOTO:  Yae's major action in the entire film is to thank Inugai for saving her family.   ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: Yae's major action in the entire film is to thank Inugai for saving her family. ©TOEI

Complication: Yae's first job at bar in "Red-light District"(Akasen-chitai) in Tokyo ends up in a police mass arrest campaign on a territorial dispute among yakuza after she runs way from Yumisaka who waiting for her arrival at her friend Tokiko Kazuraki (Yuriko Anjo)'s house. Yumisaka fails to catch up with her and his time running out, then he leaves Tokyo. Then, Yae loses her job and is driven by compulsion to sell her labour power to the next employer. She has no any choice but only job she knows is to be a prostitute which she has wanted to avoid most since she met Inugai. Finally Yae gets hired by Shinichi Motojima (Koji Mitsui) who runs a brothel (whorehouse) at Kameido, Tokyo. Yae spends ten years out there.

Midpoint: Ten years later, summer in 1957. Motojima suddenly announces upcoming closure of their business in front of his employees including Yae due to the governmental order. She finds an image of a man who resembles Inugai on the newspaper article about Kyoichiro Tarumi who is an owner of Tarumi Food and an award winning donator for significant improvement of prisoners. Yae becomes confident that Tarumi is Inugai. She decides going to Maizuru, Kyoto to visit Tarumi personally to confirm the man is actually Inugai himself in order to thank him for the enormous contribution to her and her family's lives.

FILE PHOTO:  At the End of ACT2, Inugai (L) silences Yae (R).   ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: At the End of ACT2, Inugai (L) silences Yae (R). ©TOEI

End of ACT2: Yae realises Tarumi is Inugai when she sees his memorable sign, the right thumb which injured permanently by a truck in his past. Tarumi=Inugai then murders Yae while his wife goes out for shopping. His assistant unfortunately witnesses the scene of the murder also gets strangled to death by Tarumi=Inugai. He destroys proofs of the murder by fabricating a story of young couple's suicide. Corps of Yae and Tarumi's assistant are thrown into sea after carefully moved to the beach in the heavy rain. Then Higashi-Maizuru police inspector Ajimura (played by Ken Takakura) finds the news paper clip of the article from the Yae's dead body. Ajimura decides to inquire Tarumi for it.


Final Confrontation: Tarumi pretends to be innocent and tells a false story of two victims. Furthermore, he proactively recommends Ajimura to bring him to confirm the identity of the corps of his assistant but deliberately denies Yae's identity. In response to the police notification of Yae's death, Yae's father Fucyou-zaemon (Tadashi Kato) and Shinichi Motojima (Koji Mitsui) arrive to see Yae. Yae's father Fucyou-zaemon remembers detective Yumisaka who interrogated Yae and himself for finding ''the big guy'' in ten years ago. Ajimura brings Yumisaka from Hokkaido to Maizuru for consultation. The first official interrogation of Tarumi held at police station but ends up in failure for lack of solid proof.

FILE PHOTO: The chief of Higashi-Maizuru police Toshikichi Ogimura (Susumi Fujita) ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: The chief of Higashi-Maizuru police Toshikichi Ogimura (Susumi Fujita) ©TOEI

Solution: The chief of Higashi-Maizuru police Toshikichi Ogimura (Susumi Fujita) arranges three units to collect material proofs of the crimes committed by Tarumi=Inugai. Ajimura and Yumisaka find the nail, newspaper owned by Yae and also Inugai's signature on the address book at Asahi spring hotel where Inugai, Kijima and Numata stayed for vacation before the heist. Tarumi admits he lied and disguised as pseudonym Takichi Inugai at that time. However Tarumi refuses going further, his own testimony stops when he wants understanding and acceptance of his testimonial truthiness on the course of the incidents in Hokkaido. Tarumi jailed. Before returning to Hokkaido on the day, Yumisaka requests the chief of police Ogimura to allow him to talk to Tarumi alone to return ashes of Inugai-burnt boat from Shimokita. Ogimura green lights it.

FILE PHOTO: Yumisaka (L) and Inugai =Tarumi (R) on the Seikan line. ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: Yumisaka (L) and Inugai =Tarumi (R) on the Seikan line. ©TOEI

End of ACT3:Tarumi passionately regrets his folly on Yae after Yumisaka shows him the ashes and talks about his misdeeds. Then, Tarumi begs Yumisaka to take him together to Hokkaido for further investigation. During the ship journey to Hakodate, Hokkaido with Yumisaka and police unit, Yumisaka suggests Tarumi to throw flowers into the Tsugaru strait in order to show regret for the death of Yae while seeing her born place ''Mount Osore''. Tarumj-Inugai suddenly jumps out of the ship and sink into the strait with the flowers.


FILE PHOTO: Dir. Tomu Uchida (C-front) directing Jyunzaburou Ban (R-front). ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: Dir. Tomu Uchida (C-front) directing Jyunzaburou Ban (R-front). ©TOEI

Screenplay is just a blue print of the finalised film thus the screenplay is completed when the post production finished and the film finalised. Editing is rewriting of the screenplay at the post production phase and finalising it. Screenplay fundamentally needs film editing to finalise itself.

There are at least four editorial editions of A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965). One is the director's cut (192 mins); the second one is the producer's cut (167 mins); the third one is the restored cut (183 mins); and the last one is the French cut (175 mins). Unfortunately there are only the restored version and French version are available in DVD format. In mainland China, both versions are accessible. The standardised version is the restored version of DVD available in Japan.

The French cut version sticks to the Three Act Structure in terms of dramatised feature film editing. For instance, the midpoint is exactly put on the middle of the entire running time. A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965) is not only a perfect adaptation of the original novel written by Tsutomu Minakami (1919-2004) but also it is the most successful practice of the Three Act Structure in Japanese-Asian filmmaking.

One thing must be remembered that this is an ensemble film thus the story is not only driven by single individual, the protagonist. The nature of story structure is a series of decisions, decision making by important characters. Plotting is decision making. Plots are decisions. Decisions are actions in stories. The essence of action is a decision. Action is an appearance of a decision.

It is fundamentally essential that film editing must respect and follow the plots while making cut points among actions, shots, scenes and sequences. However film editing can't save film when it lacks the Three Act Structure. The screen writer of this film, Naoyuki Suzuki (1929-2005) did the brilliant work. The screenplay of A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965) must be published for our generation to learn how Hollywood methodology is perfectly adopted in this Japanese film. It proved that there is no racial barrier to use the most effective narrative structure of centuries.

Naoyuki Suzuki's other master pieces like Bushido, Samurai Saga (1963); Miyamoto Musashi (1961); Miyamoto Musashi: Hannyazaka no ketto (1962); Miyamoto Musashi: Nitoryu kaigen (1963); Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijoji no ketto (1964) and Miyamoto Musashi: Ganryū-jima no kettō (1965). Tomu Uchida and Naoyuki Suzuki were Toei's most important filmmakers who made the golden era of Toei studio in 1960s in aesthetic terms.

FILE PHOTO: ''Toei-W106 Method''(Toei-W106 houshiki) ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: ''Toei-W106 Method''(Toei-W106 houshiki) ©TOEI

Among all methods used in A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965), the uniquest method is so called ''Toei-W106 Method''(Toei-W106 houshiki) handled by the director of photography Hanjirô Nakazawa (A cameraman in the Japanese and Taiwanese term, it including both contemporary D.P. and a camera operator; he had been active from 1953-1982). The entire film was shot in 16mm with single camera. Crane, handheld, dolly tracks (Tracking shot includes forward, backward and any following movement which literally tracks any movement of the object), a tripod, reflector, low and high key, three point lighting (lighting is highly balanced which was basically low key in the most of the sequences, but it's deliberately intensified in some tense moment in drama by high key contrast) were also used.

It is an image colour inverter effect in the contemporary digital era. ''Toei-W106 Method'' means combination of three different technics of optical film printing in post-production. The three optical post production methods were appropriately practiced.

One is blow-up & trim method, which means as a result of blow-up of 16mm film into 35 mm, the image will be five times larger than the original film format. In other words, the film particles also enlarged five times. In this film, the crew further enlarged the blow-up image into three or five times larger than the first blow-up. As the result, the image got fifteen to twenty five times enlarged, the rough particles formed the telephoto lens-like image tone. For instance, fire incident in Iwanai and scene of the ship accident in Hakodate.

The next one is relief method, which used to be typically seen in editing of suspense thrillers. It puts both negative and positive images into a positive film in order to create creepy atmosphere.

The last one is Sabatier method. It means deliberately shedding light during development. It causes a flare effect. For example, close up of Itako's face and when Inugai looking at Mount Osore from the window of Yae's room.

Black & White colour inverter method is especially brilliant on the murder of Yae and strangler of Inugai's assistant by the protagonist.

Another cinematographically crafty work is shown at ACT2, in which, sequence shot - single reframing shot containing scenes and actions; a shot functions as a sequence - was made by a continuous tracking shot by a crane that it introduces Yae touting male passengers on the street in a bar district. The camera constantly reframes from eye angle to above the roof angle to keep tracking the Yae running from the sudden mass arrest campaign of police in the middle of a territorial dispute between yakuza. At the end, the camera lost Yae in a narrow lane, audience become unable to fully track Yae however it was saved by editing when Yae jumped into the bar she works. Furthermore, the camera movement itself embodied the Yae's movement. Both Yae and the crane camera movements are harmonious and united into the image of the principal action of drama.

Sequence shot essentially involves reframing by either a crane, dolly or handheld camera. It is one of effective measures in single camera operation. Like Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi, Dir. Tomu Uchida was a mastery of sequence shots. The most important about the use of sequence shot is that Dir. Tomu Uchida did not think it as a replacement of actual editing like early years of the dogmatic, anti-Soviet critic André Bazin (famous for his writing of What Is Cinema Volume 1&2; 1918-1958) who is unconditionally embraced by anti-communist critics in Taiwan and Japan especially where French cultural imperialism is one of dominant forces in film criticism, film festival award judgement, film journalism and film subsidies because of the dominance by the same pro-French, old fashioned anti-communist critics also monopolising seats of film festival judges and governmental subsidies. It is not due to their film criticism itself which basically almost no professional filmmakers read. The political party-related critics are plants to bureaucratically control the social resources of one society with tight international collaboration with French bureaucrats, this is especially irrelevant in Taiwan and Japan.

One of ridiculous notions obsessed by those pro-Bazin dogmatists is that disdain of film editing (montage) in comparison to deep focus, wide lens, sequence shots. So called ''virtual editing'' was denied by the master of film art, Orson Welles (1915-85) himself who Bazin saw as the pioneer of that method. In short, those silly pro-Bazin critics, professors who dominate seats of film festival programmers, judges, film archive management and subsidies are politically and literally copying anti-montage remarks of early days of Bazin not referring to the later days of Bazin, especially Bazin's interview with Orson Welles himself. After that, Bazin improved his attitude on montage ''film editing''. This is critically important to know on the issue. Orson Wells, Akira Kurosawa (1910-98), and Tomu Uchida all practically embraced the correct notion that film editing is essential to the art of film for film directors. Thus we should not be misguided by Taiwanese and Japanese critics who are agents of French cultural imperialism. Moreover we should read Bazin's works holistically in order to avoid misunderstanding his evolution and improvement in his film criticism.

Originally published in Cahiers du Cinéma, No. 84, June 1958.

Translated and annotated by Sally Shafto

Bazin: The idea of editing seems related to that of short scenes; if one refers to the Soviet experience, it seems that one can fully play with the editing only if there are only short scenes. Isn’t there a contradiction between the importance that you give to the editing and the fact that you like long sequences?

Welles: I don’t believe that the sum of the editing work is a function of the brevity of the shots. It is an error to think that the Russians worked a lot on editing because they shot in short scenes. You can spend a lot of time on the editing of a film in long scenes, because you are not content to just glue them one scene to the next.

Do you likewise accord such a great importance to the editing because it is a little sloppy nowadays, or is it really for you the foundation of cinema?

I can’t believe that editing is not essential for the director, the only moment where he completely controls the form of his film. When I shoot, the sun determines something against which I can’t fight, the actor makes his intervention to which I must adapt myself and the story; I only manage to dominate what I can. The only place where I exercise an absolute control is in the editing room: consequently, that is when the director is, in power, a real artist, because I believe that a film is only good to the extent that the director manages to control his different materials and is not content to simply finish the film.

Are your edits long because you try out different solutions?

I am looking for the exact rhythm between one frame and the next. It’s a question of hearing: the editing is the moment when the film has to do with hearing. (1)

Film editing is when the creator can be a real artist to fully control the materials they shot. Orson Welles not only distinguished the fundamental difference between the art of editing and mechanical operation of jointing shots - the latter is a common phenomenon in post-production companies of today - but also he denied Bazin's anti-Soviet montage bias on film editing.

Spending long time in editing of either short or long shots is equally possible, and it won't determine superiority of any of them in terms of practical film production.

Tomu Uchida's A Fugitive from the Past (Japan, 1965) is abundant in various short and long solutions in cinematography and film editing.

FILE PHOTO: Combination of live shot and miniature shot with dissolve and super imposition. ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: Combination of live shot and miniature shot with dissolve and super imposition. ©TOEI

The most complex composition of short shots is seen at the beginning of the film. Masts wavering by typhoon in a live shot. It dissolves with super-imposing miniature shot of the Seikan line. The narration of the weather news continues. Then the miniature shot dissolves and super imposes with a Hokkaidou map, then it pans to the location of Hakodate, finally the map dissolves and super imposes with incoming landscape shot.

FILE PHOTO: A typical editorial pattern of Dir. Tomu Uchida with sequence shots. ©TOEI
FILE PHOTO: A typical editorial pattern of Dir. Tomu Uchida with sequence shots. ©TOEI

The typical editorial pattern of Dir. Tomu Uchida in this film is also apparent in the ACT1. When Inugai, Numata and Kijima arrive at beach where rescue teams of local authorities busily and hastily get on boats toward toppled Souunmaru, a temporarily fixed wide shot of the three reframes and pan to follow them descending further down the hill to the next lower layer, then cuts to front shot of the three by using the pause as a joint, the next set of the shots is the same until cuts to POV of Inugai seeing the detective Yumisaka busying with rescue of the troubled passengers on the beach. Sequence shots can help relieving the discontinuity of cuts among fixed shots which done by single camera operation stubbornly based on the story board ''Ekonte''.

In general, Dir. Tomu Uchida was not an extreme formalist of sequence shots like KMT director Hou Xiaoxian (1947-) -his long time KMT editor Qingsong Liao is inferior in continuity editing that required in genre films and TV dramas -; on the contrary, Dir. Tome Uchida avoided extremism in film form in order to create quality genre film art which abundant in varieties of film solutions. As the result, his film masterpiece, the greatest suspense thriller film in Japanese film history (1898-) is technically and aesthetically competitive with the Western films of any kinds. This classical film is one of the best examples of stable and effective single camera work.


Every country has its systematic racist issues due to the common origin of social sins, capitalism with local specialties in terms of specific historical development. The brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops on May 25, 2020 incited the world wide protests and riots against the white supremacy and slave owners of the past. Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) on the death of George Floyd is genuinely grassroots but later partially hijacked by anti-Trump democrats, powerful mainstream corporate media and its financiers, billionaires like Soros unfortunately. Furthermore, infiltration by violent extreme right wings are also tragic for the grassroots cultural revolution to survive longer.

The similar political phenomenon was and still is typical in Japan even on this Burakumin issue solely. The notable Buraku rights activist group Buraku Liberation League (BLL) had pressured the Japanese government during 1950s and 60s. Successfully it resulted in the Special Measures Law for Assimilation Projects and banned the third party members to looking at one's family registry (koseki) in 1976. However the group was ill with inner and outer political competition for hegemony in the left wing side. They intended to conduct violence, kidnapping and "denunciation and explanation sessions" against ''politically incorrect'' discriminatory people, some of its members ended up in jail. Furthermore, the National Buraku Liberation Alliance (Zenkoku Buraku Kaihō Undō Rengōkai, or Zenkairen) was formed against BLL in 1979 due to collaboration between Japanese government and BLL. The Ministry of Justice exclusively subsidised BLL members in the guise of a solution to Buraku discrimination. The inappropriateness was precisely criticised by Zenkairen at that time. Originally grassroots movement was turned into a pro-establishment political PR device by the government to further oppress real dissidents.

This powerful systematical oppression is still haunting the present Japanese politics. For example, SEALDS, CRAC (Counter-Racist Action Collective; shibakitai) and Shimin-rengo (Civil Alliance for Peace and Constitutionalism) are Japanese agents of US democrats, The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Democratic Party For the People, and masterminds of the two parties JTUC. Japanese Communist Party should split from them, otherwise it will only further devastate credit of JCP among leftists and be sacrificed for elections (for instance, voluntarily dropping of its own party candidates for candidates of The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan). This is the nature of the coalition of opposition parties led by them which is turned out to be a unintegrated, disorderly band of opposition parties. For hijacking already existed tendency of grassroots movement to unite the whole opposition against Shinzo Abe regime, the ruling class created mascots like Aki Okuda of SEALDs which is similar to Joshua Wang in Hong Kong and Greta Thunberg in Sweden with the essential help of mainstream corporate media.

The science of co-opting movements

One of talented RT commentators, Helen Buyniski published a brilliant article on BLM on July 6, 2020. In which, she analysed the ongoing internet ''cancel culture'' and political hijacking of grassroots movement in US. The phenomenon is clearly not limited only in US itself, it is rather a global phenomenon of today's world. The exploitable topics for the ruling class include any social discrimination in one country, racism, LGBTQ, generational gap, inequality, sexism, human rights, freedom, democracy, environmental issues etc. Thus it is not just a matter of BLM only. Any grassroots movement of today is subject to hijacking by the pro-establishment forces.

The Black Lives Matter movement has made millions off black Americans’ suffering. A St. Louis activist explains how it comes from a long tradition of white liberals co-opting grassroots movements to push a Democratic Party agenda.

The foundation-funded social justice activism of Black Lives Matter is using black pain to cash in on white liberal guilt, dividing American society in pursuit of a Democratic political agenda, St. Louis activist Nyota Uhura told RT.

......Having witnessed BLM’s rise up close as the nascent organization swooped into Ferguson amid the calls for justice triggered by Brown’s killing, methodically co-opting the genuine protest energy while ignoring or even obstructing those protesters’ demands, Uhura has fought to warn others of what the organization really represents – leveraging black activism into a boost for the Democratic Party.

Plucking a few Ferguson residents from the streets for a veneer of local credibility, BLM raised $33 million on the back of Brown’s death – money Uhura says her community never saw. Six years later, black St. Louis remains poor and plagued with violence, while BLM has found a new community to exploit.

“They overshadow the work of the grassroots, then they insert themselves as leaders and they go out in the media and claim to be leading these movements,” Uhura said.

Outlining the methodology of BLM and other astroturfed movements, she added that sometimes they literally just showed up at a protest they didn’t plan and did a news conference. This is a tradition she traces back to white liberals’ hijacking of the 1963 March on Washington. (2)


Unfortunately more than 95% of social movements of today that agitated by mainstream corporate media are astroturfed movements even though they had grassroots essence at their early phase. Mascots are created by ruling class as ''leaders'' of the movements they hijacked via overwhelming support from mainstream corporate media and astronomical financial aids from billionaires.

Additionally I have to mention that film awards and film festivals of Japan are generally owned and run by mainstream corporate media in Japan in tight collaboration with leading advertisement companies. Advertisement companies even run their own film festivals. Politically, films of Japan are in hands of the ruling class. Therefore there is no genuine freedom of expression in the film industry of Japan in general. The oppression against different and independent voices is first of all, almost permanent exclusion from the mainstream establishment.


1. André Bazin and Charles Bitsch, Interview with Orson Welles, Paris, France, June 1958, Cahiers du Cinéma, No. 84, cited by Senses of Cinema in March 2008.

2. Helen Buyniski, RT, Veteran activists have called out BLM as a tool of the Democrats from day 1. But agenda-driven $MILLIONS drown out the grassroots, Moscow, July 6, 2020.



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