Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: ‘Pastoral: To Die in the Country’ (1974)

Sunday November 10th 2013, Movie night, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema by Jeffrey Babcock. ‘Pastoral: To Die in the Country’ (田園に死す. aka, Denen ni shisu ), 1974, directed by Shugi Terayama, 104 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles. Door opens at 20:00, film begins at 21:00

Pastoral: To Die in the Country is another dazzling piece of surreal film-making from Shuji Terayama (*Throw away your Books*). Terayama was Japan’s infant-terrible of the turbulent sixties, an artist whose work is basically unknown here in the West. He was a photographer, playwright, novelist, filmmaker, and poet… and in his time his work incited scandal and outrage, censorship and banning. Today in Japan he is considered a visionary cult hero. He is one of the favorite directors of the music group STEREOLAB and they called their 1996 album after his short film Emperor Tomato Ketchup.

This is one of the director’s most visually stunning films. You have never seen any other film that looks like this, that touches the kind of poetry he has conjured up in this gem. The story is a reflection on his own childhood in the Japanese countryside, and its set in a bizarre, carnivalesque village. The village is wild and fantastic and is shown through a prism which makes the visuals explode in a way that it seems only Terayama can achieve. Adrift in this dreamy environment, the young boy is forced to deal with his own sexual hang-ups as he reaches puberty. The movie is also about an older man, looking back and trying to make sense of his past.

For a film that was nominated for a Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, its a crime that is film has been impossible to see for decades, and therefore has been forgotten about and effectively deleted from history. In this “magical-realist” film Shuji Terayama has provided some of the most beautiful visuals that have ever graced the silver screen. So I hope you can make it to this extremely rare screening…. an absolute must for anyone who loves the possibilities of free cinema.

One viewer’s response:

“*Terayama’s mastery of the image is inarguable. His compositions – kaleidoscopic, supersaturated, overpowering – are an integral part of his films’ unique emotional landscape. The film is charged with budding eroticism, a portrait of an adolescent’s confusion juxtaposed with a man’s midlife existentialism. Terayama was a fascinating man and he’s putting his soul on display in this film, his own poetry woven through it as his memories ring with the surreal …*”

Film night at Joe’s Garage, warm and cozy cinema! Doors open at 8pm, film begins at 9pm, free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net