On a beautiful island in Seto Inner Sea, Seichi and Minko make their living by transporting rocks to construction sites by boat. They cherish the deepest affection for this piece of land ... See full summary »
A young swordsman in 1930's China returns home to try and solve a five-year-old murder case. Described as the third installment of the gangster trilogy that includes "Let The Bullets Fly" and "Gone With The Bullets."
Not everyone values the housewife enough. When the local friendly neighbourhood burglar hits their house, the husband and wife descend into a quarrel that ends up with the woman departing ... See full summary »
Zaizen Goro may only be an assistant professor but he has already made a name for himself. His superior, however, does not approve of his attitude towards their profession, and is at odds ... See full summary »
Otoko wa tsurai yo ("It's tough being a man") is a long-running and beloved Japanese film series that spanned from 1969 to 1995 and starred Kiyoshi Atsumi as Kuruma Torajirou, or simply "... See full synopsis »
Large scale production that lacks the proper intensity
Yamamoto Satsuo was a director known for his societal commentary, films that take the side of the poorer people and feature rebellious criticism about their society. Yamamoto directed films from 1937 to 1982, making this an autumnal work for the director. "Kôtei no inai hachigatsu" (August Without the Emperor, 1978) features a larger budget than his usual films. This is visible in the way the film takes place all over Japan and sports a large number of characters. It's based on a novel by Kobayashi Kyozo.
Yamamoto seems to have kept up with American cinema even in his later years. Throughout the film you find yourself thinking about possible American or western influences for the narrative. "Twilight's Last Gleaming" (1977) by Robert Aldrich, as well as "Seven Days in May" (1965) by John Frankenheimer came to mind in terms of the narrative, as well as Gosho Heinosuke's penultimate film "Utage" (Rebellion of Japan, 1967). In style, the closest thing would probably be large scale crime procedural like "The Day of the Jackal" (1973) by Fred Zinneman.
But where as the same eye for details and realism is there, "August Without the Emperor" doesn't pack the same intensity. The bits and pieces are all there, but the director does not shake them the right way, and this bomb never really goes off. The film depicts an attempted rebellion in the 1970's. The perpetrators are far right military personnel who find that Japan has taken the wrong path as a society since their defeat in WWII. Their plan is to establish a military dictatorship that would honor the country's glorious past.
The film jumps from one place to another, and especially the early parts are hard to follow due to this. There are the criminals, but also their hostages, the police/military officials fighting against them, and then the Japanese government. Each character is introduced with a big text that you need to read fast while simultaneously reading the subtitles for the dialogue, which is fast-paced. Of course it's easier to just be born Japanese.
I found that the constant jumping made it hard to invest in the characters. Especially the politicians felt dull and pointless, though they help establish the societal criticism of the script. The tone of the film did not correlate with me. It is very serious. It is not an entertaining film, but for a political, ambitious work it's told in way, that makes it difficult to follow. There are elements in the screenplay that feel old and weary, but also this youthful anger.
Strangest bit was, that this film, that takes itself super seriously, also slides in a small role by comedian Atsumi Kiyoshi. The famous "Tora-san" actor is in the film, playing a variation of his signature character, and boy, that sure messed with the general atmosphere. From the other characters, Yamamoto's oft-used actor Mikuni Rentaro is quite good, and the main villain is too. Still, for a 140 minute film with over a dozen characters, I wish more of them had made an impact. Because you can't invest yourself in the changing locations and characters, the film that moves quickly starts to feel very slow, even uninteresting.
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this