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November 15 – November 16, 2015

Almost Like a Horror Film. The Cinema of Nobuhiko Obayashi

A legend in Japan, cult filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi (b.1938) launched his career in cinema with a series of avant-garde, small-gauge films whose daring visual style and free structure would inform his feature films. A friend and contemporary of luminary filmmaker Shuji Terayama, Obayashi shared his fellow radical’s distrust of the dominant culture, which he willfully subverted in his playful and indelible films. Obayashi made his feature debut with one of his greatest works, the truly unclassifiable Hausu, which could be called a slapstick horror comedy, a psychedelic coming-of-age story, a trance melodrama; with its recent US theatrical release, it has been confirmed as a cult masterpiece. The Harvard Film Archive is proud to welcome Nobuhiko Obayashi for a rare US visit.

This program is co-presented with the Japan Foundation, New York and the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University.

Special thanks: Aaron Gerow—Yale University, Alexander Zahlten—Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard; Stacie Matsumoto—Interim Executive Director, Reischauer Institute, Harvard.

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$12 Special Event Tickets
Nobuhiko Obayashi in person

Sunday November 15 at 7pm

Bound for the Fields, the Mountains, and the Seacoast (Noyukiyamayukiumibeyuki)

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. With Saburo Boya, Sen Hara, Yasufumi Hayashi
Japan 1986, color, 16mm, 135 min. Japanese with English subtitles

Obayashi captures the erratic and turbulent but sincere energy of youth with this story of a group of rebellious boys who form an uneasy alliance to save a local girl from being sold into prostitution. The film breaks with the somber and tortured critiques of wartime Japan by previous generations to present a positive and anarchic vision of resistance. Shot in one of the busiest phases of his career and chock-full of Obayashi’s silent film-inspired bursts of cinematic imagination, it is also one of the final films produced by the legendary Art Theatre Guild (ATG). Obayashi went on a creative and commercial roll in the mid-1980s, capturing large audiences with filmic experiments that combined arthouse sensibility, avant-garde techniques and pop-cultural cool – used here to explore a dark period of Japanese history. – Alexander Zahlten, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard

Preceded by

Complexe

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
Japan 1964, 16mm, color, 14 min

 

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$12 Special Event Tickets
Nobuhiko Obayashi in person

Monday November 16 at 7pm

House (Hausu)

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. With Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kimiko Ohba
Japan 1977, 35mm, color, 88 min. Japanese with English subtitles

House was a conscious attempt by Toho studios, the home of Godzilla and Mothra, to make a crazy horror movie. The hope was that a certain kind of randomness might appeal to a new generation of moviegoers bored with the Toho kaiju (“monster”) movies that had become too childish. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.   

Filmed using every trick in the pre-digital book, House looks like it takes place in a series of candy-colored dollhouses or, perhaps, the commercials for them. Animations, superimpositions, rainbows, artificial sunsets, faked home movies, see-through floors and reverse action compete with a metronome-timed theme song in a spooky mansion where schoolgirls on vacation are attacked by items that may or may not represent the domestic futures they are supposed to desire. The girls, typed and named according to personality (Gorgeous, Sweet, Kung Fu), die in ways geared toward their characters in this cartoonishly sadistic Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

Preceded by

Emotion

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
Japan 1966, 16mm, color, 38 min

 

House is also screening as part of our Furious and Furiouser series of 70s cinema.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700