reviews

Yama—Yareretara Yarikaese

Mitsuo Sato, Kyoichi Yamaoka

Sad but true: expression is a life-and-death struggle. Yama—Yareretara Yarikaese (Yama—dare to take revenge, 1986) is a disturbing film that begins with a chronology of the workers’ struggle in and around Tokyo’s Sanya (or “Yama”) district, superimposed over an aerial view of the area. The last line reads, “December 22, 1984.” We then see blood on the pavement, a man lying in the street, and a close-up of his face. He seems to be still breathing weakly. There is no indication that this is Mitsuo Sato, the initiator and first director of the film, who was stabbed to death on that day by a rightist gang. The silence suggests that the film rejects reducing his death to a mere semiotic frame of history by identifying the scene’s who and what. The audience isn’t allowed to participate in the transient time between life and death. The violence of the image transforms even a man’s death into an

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