Sunday, 27 September 2009
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Sunday, 6 September 2009
Nobuo Nakagawa's film 'Jigoku' ('Hell') tells the story of Shirô, a young student who seems to be surrounded by death. First of all, he is involved in a hit-and-run accident that kills a gang member, then his fiancée dies in another road accident, killing both her and their unborn baby. After a string of further deaths, Shirô is stalked and eventually murdered by the mother of his hit-and-run victim and descends into Buddhist Hell (or 'Naraka'), along with all the people who have died around him.
Nakagawa's film is infamous for its unsettling visions of Hell, created on Shintoho Studio's largest soundstage; however, more screen time is actually devoted to the complex set of circumstances that lead Shirô to his fate. The film's depiction of the fragility of human life and the capacity for horrific events to happen reminds me of the much more recent work of Alejandro González Iñárritu, while I found its brutal depiction of the hypocrisies of parenthood and satirical attack on policemen, doctors and the elderly uniquely bitter. Shirô and his fiancée actually emerge as the most innocent characters, and yet they are still subject to the mercy of Enma, King of Hell.