The most militant of the many radical political groups forged in late 1960s Japan, the United Red Army has also been among the most contested and controversial. After a string of bold and deadly attacks on the police in 1972, several URA members fled to a remote mountain holdout where the bloody events unflinchingly chronicled in Wakamatsu’s celebrated most recent film took place. A frightening exploration of the conflict between individual expression and ideological conviction, Wakamatsu’s powerful and unsettling film focuses with harrowing intensity on the disintegration of the group as its members gradually turn on each other in grueling sessions of critique and, eventually, torture. While drawing extensively from his own experience within radical politics, Wakamatsu also based his screenplay and story on exhaustive interviews conducted with those surviving Red Army members he was able to track down, many in prison or in exile. —Harvard Film Archive
Kōji Wakamatsu (若松孝二, Wakamatsu Kōji?) (born 1 April 1936) is a Japanese film director who directed such pinku eiga films as Ecstasy of the Angels (天使の恍惚, Tenshi no Kōkotsu?, 1972) and Go, Go Second Time Virgin (ゆけゆけ二度目の処女, Yuke Yuke Nidome no Shojo?, 1969). He also produced Nagisa Ōshima’s controversial film In the Realm of the Senses (1976). He has been called “the most important director to emerge in the pink film genre,” and one of “Japan’s leading directors of the 1960s.”
Kōji Wakamatsu was born in Wakuya, Miyagi, Japan on 1 April 1936. Wakamatsu worked as a construction worker before beginning his film career with Nikkatsu in 1963.
Between 1963 and 1965, he directed 20 exploitation films for the studio, based on sensational topics of the day. He became interested in the Pink Film genre after the success of Tetsuji Takechi’s 1964 Daydream. Nikkatsu submitted his Skeleton in the Closet (壁の中の秘事, Kabe no Naka no Himegoto?) (also known as Secrets Behind the Wall) (1965… read more
a sprawling, messy epic that makes hollywood-copycat BS like "the baader-meinhof complex" look like "the breakfast club." i've heard wakamatsu was once sympathetic to the URA, and his POV in the movie is strange and unique - not exactly a cautionary against misguided ideals or a bittersweet lament to the freewheelin hippie era. in fact, it doesn't resemble western baby-boomer culture much at all, in form or content.
My conservative father fondly remembers the days when people would smoke pot in open and the cops wouldn't say anything, truly believing they actually changed something. And then, in the same sentence, denigrates whatever hip-hop I'm listening to for talking about being constantly high. Thank God Wakamatsu didn't fall prey to that kind of cognitive dissonance.
This was like one of those cheap forensic shows they show on tv where they get bad actors to re-enact murder scenes . . . only it was 3 hours long and about a supposedly serious historical event. Really, really terrible. -_____-
I was sometimes worried that Wakamatsu might be moving into 'bad guys and good guys' territory, but every time I doubted him he allowed us to look at the cruel characters in a different perspective. I think you can tell from the start that he knew the people he was portraying, and that fact made it a very powerful and informative work.
Dennis Lim on United Red Army, the LAT’s directors roundtable and more.
Of course there'll be another roundup on The Tree of Life. But first, let's give a little breathing room to some of the other films opening
"We have exciting news on the horizon for Kôji Wakamatsu fans," tweeted Kino Lorber a few days ago. "An official theatrical release of
Somehow it is only the cinema of duration, of dragging out the minutes and the tedium for those in the film as well as those in the audience