Home > music, the silver screen > ‘Shitsurakuen’: jôbafuku onna harakiri

‘Shitsurakuen’: jôbafuku onna harakiri

Is this a movie? Why, yes, of course. It is, after all, a moving picture. And that’s the basic definition of “movie,” isn’t it?

What it’s not, however, is in any way entertaining. It’s not something you watch to pass the time, it’s not something you watch to enjoy (unless you, for some reason, enjoy this stuff). Why? Because it’s a harakiri film. Sadly, there’s no Wikipedia entry for the term “harakiri film,” but unless you’re dumb (which is probably the reason you’re reading this blog?), it’d be painfully obvious as to what is meant by the combination of the terms “harakiri” (“ceremonial suicide by ripping open the abdomen with a dagger or knife: formerly practiced in Japan by members of the warrior class when disgraced or sentenced to death.”) and “film.” Yes, you guessed it: movies about people disemboweling themselves.

To me, this film is the slow, somewhat masturbatory arthouse film taken to some sort of extreme (visually and, to an extent, aurally) by one of the masters of the noise aesthetic, none other than Masami Akita (a.k.a. Merzbow) himself. It’s disturbing, gory, unsettling and confrontational. The film counterpart to Merzbow’s noise. The visual accompaniment to his aural landscapes.

However . . . no, it’s not particularly good. It’s pretty pointless (except as an exercise in, well, gore) and it’s pretty slow and, hell, it’s probably not even that gory. It is, however, still quite a handful to get through. The score (I hesitate to call it a “soundtrack,” lest idiots start to get all worked up about how it’s not actually music and shit like that), though, is actually quite good and probably the most redeeming factor of this movie, Sure, it’s not as wonderfully harsh and loud as most of Merzbow’s work, nor is it as good as some of his career highlights (Pulse Demon and 1930 come to mind) but it is pretty enjoyable and it adds quite a bit to the movie. In fact, I guess you could treat this as something of a 30-minute Merzbow music video, in which case it may actually work a bit better.

I will have to admit that the primary reason I decided to download this was because of the Merzbow connection. That, and the fact that I like my gore and somewhat enjoy obscure, confrontational and gory movies. But mostly because of the Merzbow link. Perhaps dear old Masami would call me a “Merzslut.”


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