Mitsuo YANAGIMACHI’s debut film is probably best known in the West due to the Canadian post-rock band “Godspeed, You Black Emperor” appropriating the film’s name. However, the film is a fascinating portrait of teen alienation and youthful rebellion in late 1970s urban Japan.
The film is a documentary which follows the disintegration of a Japanese biker gang known as Black Emperor. Shot on Black and White 16mm film stock, the film offers a candid and gritty portrait of life among young social outcasts both rebelling against society and striving to connect with others. —East Asian Film Society
Born in Ibaraki prefecture, Yanagimachi aspired to becoming a filmmaker while studying in the law department at Waseda University. After graduating and starting work, it was not until 1970 that he returned to his dream and became a freelance assistant director. Later, received guidance from Atsushi Yamatoya at Toei Film Company’s education department. In 1974 he started his own production company, “production Gunro” (Wolf Production Team) and started a documentary project following the lives of motorbike gangs. After two years of production, his first work, God Speed You! Black Emperor, was completed in 1976. Despite an initially low-key release, the documentary received critical acclaim, and went on to a much wider theater tour. In 1979, Yanagimachi adapted A Nineteen Year Old’s Map (written by Kenji Nakagami) to make his first screen drama. His first original scenario came in 1982, with a story set in Kashima, Ibaraki prefecture – Yanagimachi’s home ground. In 1985 he collaborated… read more
pretty cool film. I suppose they maybe got someone in the gang to do most of the filming and interviews, it felt so natural. interesting to see what the japanese version of biker hoodlums are like. lots of scenes showing them riding around through the night. reminded me of akira. marred in spots by subtitle/audio synching issues. not a big deal, though. good film, as I said. also lots of 70s japanese blues rock.