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Film Review : The Nurse with the Purple Hair (2017) Focusing on Film Death and Real Death

Updated: Jul 29, 2021

#FilmReview #TheNursewiththePurpleHair #影評


Friday the 13th. (1980) and the Nurse with the Purple Hair (2017)

It's no doubt that the world's most famous horror franchise was and still is Friday the 13th. Sean S. Cunningham (1941-) is best known for his horror film master piece, the original film Friday the 13th. (1980) which was a major success for the independent film company in the East Coast, Georgetown Productions Inc. and successfully being distributed by the Hollywood major studios like Paramount Pictures for domestic US theatrical release and international release by Warner Brothers.

Sean S. Cunningham casted my friend Ari Lehman as a boy Jason Voorhees in the 1980 master piece, and he also cooperated with one of my film teachers at Tokyo University of the Arts, art director Toshihiro Isomi and acquaintance assistant director Naoyoshi Kawamatsu on one of film episodes, a Japanese story "Jibaku" for the horror anthology Trapped Ashes (2006).

In fact, he is pretty underrated by Japanese critics and Chinese critics however Friday the 13th. (1980) and The Nurse with the Purple Hair (2017) showed the most important theme of our lives. That is how to face the movie death and real death of people. Dialectic contradiction of fiction and reality is seriously considered only by Sean S. Cunningham among all so called ''horror masters'' around the world. The most of them are just tried to fictionalise the reality itself in the pessimist or escapist way. Furthermore, this was purely done in the name of ''realism'' or ''style.'' It lacks human emotion and solemn respect for real death and real social issues. Even Hong Kong horror directors just only think about how to exceed Hollywood by more gore and brutal violent expressions.

On the contrary, Sean S. Cunningham shared his minimalist attitude toward horror genre filmmaking on Friday the 13th. (1980),

I still remember what he said about the ethical aspect and violent sensationalism in filmmaking. Commercial filmmakers always just capitalising killing and death in the genre.

You can't do anything new with special effects; you can't get any mileage out of killing more people or being more graphic, because it's all been done - you should excuse the expression - to death. The pornography of violence is similar to the pornography of sex, in that when it's presented without substance it becomes a turn-off and it self-destructs.

Movie death is just a matter of capitalisation. Even it becomes a sales point. Capitalists, patrons try to capitalise every film aspect. Human deaths in love story, costume play, suspense, porno, sci-fi, action, horror films are normally or abnormally always targets of capitalisation under capitalism. For instance, sequels need more sensational twists, unexpected deaths of previously well-known characters.

This is what Sean S. Cunningham wanted to avoid as minimal as possible in order to keep moral freedom from capitalisation of fake deaths and violent expressions in film business. It gives his master piece everlasting sensitivity and attraction for real film goers. His unique approach to the horror genre made his Friday the 13th. (1980) our text book.

The Nurse with the Purple Hair (2017) is a well-made video documentary by the film master which shows his more advanced approach to the death theme. The death theme is the most important theme for everyone. It gives us real life or indulgence. It depends on our realisation of its meaning in real life. This cannot be realised by capitalising it in commercial stuff. From fictional death to real death, from fictional movie to documentary, finally it achieves journalism of the real world. His career reflects his inner development.

The theme of this documentary is the same with the theme of Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru (1952). Although Friday the 13th. (1980) focuses on movie death; The Nurse with the Purple Hair (2017) focuses on real death. The two movies must be seen in order to fully understand and feel the dialects of fiction and reality. What the inner difference between both fiction and reality? The death will answer that question. Only the sense of imminent death can make us feel real meaning of lives, genuine values of art and what should we do.

I myself did freelance photographical work for Fuji film series company in 2014 after got a theatrical feature film The Rakugo Movie (2013) broadcasted nationwide in Japan, and when I did photographical work at one of Japan's important cancer research centres, I realised what the real death means. Fictional death is totally ridiculous and meaningless if it is capitalised. Snapshots on dying young cancer patients taught me what real art is, what real death is, what solemn respect for objects is. This is the difference between stupid fiction and solemn reality. Those snapshots were full of real emotional impacts than any commercial craps of industrial stars. The Nurse with the Purple Hair (2017) has the similar impression to us. This is a matter of enlightenment which required for both drama and documentary.