This topic is part of the 2012 MUBI World Cup. If you have not already done so, please read the first post at the topic for an introduction to and rules about this year’s World Cup:
The purpose of this topic is to cast votes in the matchup listed above and also to be a forum for discussing the films in the match.
Anyone who has seen both of the films listed above may vote in this match. You must vote for whichever of the two films you personally like better. In order to vote you must post a reply to this topic containing one of the following sequences:
If you are voting for Silence Has No Wings: “Japan (Silence Has No Wings) 1 – Wales (The Other Side of the Underneath) 0”
If you are voting for The Other Side of the Underneath: “Japan (Silence Has No Wings) 0 – Wales (The Other Side of the Underneath) 1”
Your vote must contain the names of both films with a “one” after the film you are voting for and a “zero” after the other film. If your vote is not formatted in this way it will not be counted.
Along with your vote you are strongly encouraged to leave additional comments regarding your reactions to the films, your reasons for why you voted the way you did, and responses to other participants’ comments. Being able to have deep discussion about the films and different aspects of them is an important part of finding enjoyment in participating in the World Cup.
This match will end on Wednesday, August 22 at 10:00 PM GMT. No votes attempted to be cast after that time will be counted. Shortly after the match ends the votes will be tallied and a winner of the match will be declared. If the films both receive the same number of votes, the match will be considered a tie.
The percentage of votes each film receives in a match will have an effect on whether or not the corresponding country will participate in the final round of the World Cup. Thus even if the film you vote for loses in this match, your vote will still be important.
The results of the matches as well as the schedule for future matches can be found here:
If you would like to participate but are unable to find sources to watch these films, please send me a personal message so that I can invite you to the private website featuring internet links to view the films.
Japan (Silence Has No Wings) 0 – Wales (The Other Side of the Underneath) 1
I think this was a good match. Both films are stylistic features that are mostly abstract in their handling of the subject matter, relying a lot on their aesthetics for appreciation. I will go with the film from Wales mainly because other than its obvious stylistic achievements, it evokes a powerful visceral reaction to the horrors of insanity. The film from Japan has some interesting aesthetics but feels a bit soulless and pointless in the end. I am not entirely sure how the nuclear holocaust relates with the story of the butterfly. In short, its a bit too allegorical for me to make any sense of it.
“Silence has no Wings” is quite a breathtaking film in terms of cinematography (as are many Nuberu bagu films), but the fragmented storyline didn´t do much for me. While I loved the segment with the boy catching the rare butterfly, I didn´t particularily care for most of what was going on in the second half. “TOSotU” is a rather unique take on mental illness which actually lets the viewer experience the world as a disjointed and highly absurd place. An excellent example of the possibilities of cinema when it comes to reflecting the human psyche.
Thread on Other Side of the Underneath here
I didn’t vote in the last Wales match, although i’d proposed Sleep Furiously, cos i liked both films too much really. But the other 2 proposers of SF didn’t vote either, so Wales was a bit unfortunate with the overall score, and percentages seem to be important. I’ll be watching Silence has no Wings, but again i’m likely to feel torn.
@ Rohit, yeah visceral is a word well suited to TOSOTU; it came to mind on the other thread, but for some reason i hardly ever use the word, maybe cos it seems to be used too loosely by movie critics.
Japan (Silence Has No Wings) 1 – Wales (The Other Side of the Underneath) 0
The Other Side of the Underneath had its moments, but was also rather unfocused and amateurish at times. One good scene, with the two women, the broken pieces of mirror, and the fractured images. But, over all, all too typical of this time period of druggy experimentation (the 1970’s), with some rather sloppy film work. The commune scene, for instance, just got a bit too long and tedious. The sound quality was often poor, with images sometimes out of focus – all giving it a bit of a student-film look. I prefer my madness a bit more dramatically done, ala Marat/Sade or Russell’s The Devils. This was too much collegiate Theatre of Cruelty for my taste.
Silence Has No Wings started with a good premise, involving the travelling caterpillar and its journey, but then got completely side-tracked into rather confusing and often pointless (from this time frame, anyway) stories. Still, this was better filmed, with the allegory of the aftermath of the atomic bombings giving it some weight.
Two films trying hard, but falling short.
Silence has no Wings is extremely beautiful and half way through i wasn’t sure which way i would be voting, but the second half is too disjointed and enigmatic for its own good. So the painful sincerity of Jane Arden wins out over the bambi eyes of Kaga Mariko.
Japan (Silence Has No Wings) 1 / Wales (The Other Side of the Underneath) 0
I want to temper my above statement a bit as I think it comes across as overly negative. I very much admire the intent in both films and am thankful for getting the opportunity (which this Cup offers) to see films outside of my own experience (or maybe comfort zone), that I really wouldn’t have come across without these submissions.
Reading Kenji’s fine intro to Arden’s film, and then reading more on Arden myself (she was just a name to me before this match), I DO think her an original artist with a different perspective. She seems part of that radical re-thinking of the arts, feminism, and society that took place in so many areas in the late 60’s/early 70’s. This was a time of confrontation, trying to shake things up, trying to get at what is hidden that I most admire about artists like her who worked and lived on the edge.
The Other Side of the Underneath has that edgy, frenetic, anything goes quality of the agit-prop works of the time. Artists were trying to shake things up a bit, shock the bourgeoise values, and score political points re gender issues or the treatment of those on the outside of society. These films are usually heavily-stylized (in word, image, and music), use improv, and are infused with the anti-theatre ideas of Artaud or Brecht’s own political theatre. A lot of these films now look a bit dated (as does this one, I believe) because they have now lost some of their shock value. We now live in a culture that is basically shock-proof and insular, so what worked back then may not work today – or just seem a bit contrived and silly. Still, Arden’s film is at the fore-front of the anti-psychiatry movement stimulated by R.D. Laing’s Divided Self – and other books.
The Japanese film is also typical of a time of radical re-invention by some Japanese filmmakers who were tired of what they saw as the conservatism of the 1950’s in Japanese film. They were trying for a more expressive, image-rich medium that drew on the inherent ‘pictoral’ quality of film. This new group was trying to bring an aesthetic change to Japanese film much in common with the French Nouvelle Vague. Filmmakers like Teshigahara and Yoshida were trying for something new, using visual symbolism, allegory, and highly-stylized imagery/camerawork to re-invent the Japanese film. I see Silence Has No Wings as part of this movement. It is a more playful, but no less creative, attempt to bring some cinematic life onto the screen. Like others have commented, it does start off well, but then just seems to be using the caterpillar/butterfly motif finally to make fun of Japanese film conventions of the time – like the spy thriller it satirizes at the end.
Because both films could be tied-in with their surrounding movements, both have some of the energy of this period. Still, I think both could have benefited from a tighter focus and structure, as both seemed to meander too much – again typical of the times, I guess. Also, we should not need subtitles for an English-language film, as the Welsh accents (if that’s what they were) were perfectly understandable. I’m not sure if the transfer or initial recording were to blame for the poor sound quality in some of the scenes – esp. the therapy sessions.
There were both Welsh and English accents- many of the cast were from Arden’s London theatre group, Arden herself from Wales.
For me, while it may have lost some of its shock value (though it’s powerful and painful, if not grating), The Other Side of the Underneath is still very relevant. Significant changes in psychiatric practice have taken place, with more respect for patients’ rights, and women have made major gains, but there is still, in UK, much hostility to outsiders (whether romanies, hippies, new agers, immigrants..).and a great deal of stigma attached to mental health problems- which society sees as an embarrassment to be kept out of sight.
There is still great pressure to conform to an overriding capitalist-consumerist model. Many are pushing for Wiliam Blake’s Jerusalem to be the new English national anthem, though they don’t seem to have grasped his stance. In some ways, the film draws on a long tradition of nonconformity, rebellion and challenging but Utopian desires too- the likes of not just Blake and Mary Wollstonecraft but Robert Owen with his co-operative movement come to mind.
I am new here, but I would love to participate in this series. Regrettably, I have not heard of either of these films, let alone seen them, and my search for them has yielded no success. I contacted the original poster, but seeing as the deadline is fast approaching, I felt it might be appropriate to post here and request that anyone who has links to Silence Has No Wings and The Other Side of the Underneath might privately send them to me. Thank you very much.
Just send risselada a pm requesting a link to his blog you can see them both there
Thank you! Kenji already messaged me privately about this, and I’ve messaged Risselada. I would remove my previous post if I knew how.
EDIT: This has been resolved. Thanks again to all three of you.
You are most welcome, hope you enjoy these two pieces of creative cinema:)
@Oxy you can always turn unwanted subs off (unless hardcoded of course) just click on the little red tab down the bottom. I was pleased I had them as was so immersed in the visuals kept missing the dialogue and it was good to glance down every now and again to catch something. I didn’t notice any poor sound but watched this on my tab with headphones in the park with volume up.
Thanks for your remarks, Kenji. I think you are competely right that mental health issues, recognition and treatment still have a long way to go. What happened where I live (Vancouver, Canada) was that the government took the backlash against institutional care as the opportunity to close the one major treatment facility and basically turf the patients out, back into the community. Few then got the treatment or support they needed, many just ending up as street people.
Disgusting, really, that nothing much has changed since Arden made her film in terms of treatment/perceptions. I have had many dealings with people with mental health issues and think the challenges they face are immense. Kudos to Arden for trying to give a different twist to the representation of mental illness in film, rather than the usual Snake Pit type portrayals we are used to from Hollywood..
Meg – I realize I could have turned off the subtitles, but due to the sound quality of some of the sections, I was watching on my computer (for whatever reason), I couldn’t hear some of the dialogue. However, I won’t blame Arden or her crew for this, if others say the sound is fine.
(Japan) Silence Has No Wings 1] (Wales) The Other Side of the Underneath 0
I’ll share my thoughts later.
u need to score them 0 and 1 or it won’t be counted
My mistake! Fixed it.
Matt, I’m so glad you are joining us!
Yeah, i helped him join in time to vote against a film i proposed! Normally i would be supporting Japan, but Wales needs the exposure more. I’m just hoping Wales gets the chance for another film to be screened, i’m not really up on how it works, whether countries with a win and a defeat keep going for another match, or if it depends on vote percentages.
Thank you for having me, Risselada! It’s a pleasure to participate and discover new films. For me, both films started out extremely strong and went a bit off the rails as they progressed. I don’t want to seem ignorant, but they each became abstract to the point that I was no longer sure what was happening, particularly with regards to the Jane Arden film.
Throughout most of its runtime, I was wondering if Silence Has No Wings might join my list of all-time favorites. I was fascinated by the earlier stories in the film, including the boy with the butterfly and the Nagasaki couple. I do not know her name, but the woman who survived the atomic bomb and was traumatized by sirens delivered a beautiful performance. I was struck by one of her lines enough to scribble it down: “It’s like crying out to the sky — no one’s there to answer you. So… you wonder when will come the time you can honestly feel it was good to be alive.” The cinematography and use of lighting is gorgeous, as is the haunting score. Around the one hour mark, when the man in the suit goes to the clothing store, I no longer knew what was happening. The final scene, however, is quite powerful, making the butterfly allegory explicit.
Similarly, I found the earlier scenes in The Other Side of the Underneath deeply unsettling, but it lost me as it devolved into increasingly abstract symbolism. The old woman sitting on the ground repeating “silly old bitch, open your legs” was rather effective, as was the girl screaming “multiply and divide” as she stabs the pillow. My favorite moments in the film involved the character with the large, orange prosthetic nose. I believe she was known as Meg the Peg, and I found her terrifying. Eventually, however, I began to lose any semblance of an idea of what was happening onscreen. I’m willing to concede that it might have simply gone over my head, and if there is an explanation to be had, I certainly would be willing to listen.
My apologies for voting against the film you chose, Kenji. It’s nothing personal, I assure you.
I liked the last half hour of ‘The Other Side of the Underneath’, the pastoral setting, the escape intro hallucination/reality/desire, part Ken Russell pageantry/part 70s performance art/part Jean Rolin fever dream, it became funnier, liberating, sexier, without losing its unsettling, deeply hurtful resonance. The Artaud-ian hysterics and psychodramatics that preceded it didn’t grab me much, plus the film had an overkill of textual information: dissonant sounds, atonal music, angular/fish-eye lenses, wording repetition…, which exhausted me a bit and not in a particularly challenging way. Go Wales!
Osaka: a crowded train, the caterpillar pauses on the Man’s newspaper; we follow his daily routine – camera very attentive, very close: first at his office – a sense of dislocation and alienation becomes already strikingly palpable (“Life with no turning points is a bore”) -, he walks through the city, looks at some ties and belts – on the soundtrack women voices tease about his good looks -, Mariko Kaga appears on a giant outdoor – one of my favourite shots in the film has the Man holding his office papers, and posing in front of her lips -, he follows a woman, loses her, stops for a drink, has anonymous sex with a woman at the bar – a stunningly beautiful sequence -, we hear laughs on the soundtrack – heightening the Man’s physical/emotional unconnectedness -, he rounds up a little more on the streets (maybe he dreams too?), and then, after seeing him throwing up, literally, amongst the overbearing sounds of trains, amidst an industrial area, we loose him – and we become disoriented too, as the film, mischievously, transforms itself into a delicious Nikkatsu parody – spies, yakuza, Hong Kong, black cases with mysterious content, shootings -, before taking us back into the haunting, touching, fragmentation of collective loneliness: “Fly, fly in the wind, go catch your runaway love”. Sublime!
@Jorge: You just explained the difficulties I had with Silence Has No Wings. I am unfamiliar with Nikkatsu, so I was rather confused by all of that. Thank you! I will be giving it another viewing soon.
My favorite moments in the film involved the character with the large, orange prosthetic nose.
Agree, Matt. I see her as a sort of hideous witch princess (why does that remind me of someone on mubi?) or a Reichian therapist (ala Wilhelm Reich, the psychotherapist who was the subject of Makavejev’s great W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism). She seems to transform into other characters, too. Can’t tell you what any of it is about either, as I see the film mainly as a series of set pieces of performance art, all done to represent various psychic states or suppressed sexuality or…?
Not sure how the drowning scene at the beginning correlates to what comes after. There doesn’t seem to be a setting for the therapy or the patients, although some sort of sessions (with Arden as therapist) are being held. The women seem to cavort around much like the possessed nuns of Russell’s The Devils (1971) – which maybe influenced this film? In some ways, this film reminded me of an earlier Cup film, Carmelo Bene’s Salome in terms of in-your-face imagery. The crucifixion scene seems borrowed, as well, but represents a radical feminist take, I assume.
Jorge has a good take on what Silence Has No Wings is about. Interested to see more films by this director. And Arden, too, for that matter. Any more takes on these films?
@ Matt: The Other Side of the Underneath was always bound to have mixed reactions. It’s a very different kettle of fish from the previous Welsh film in the competition, a quiet rural documentary Sleep Furiously in Welsh-speaking West Wales, rather than Anglophone industrial South Wales. I’m just hoping another Welsh film- preferably Separado!, which is fun, or failing that, another film partly in Patagonia, called..Patagonia – gets to be seen. These films are hardly famous in Wales, never mind elsewhere.
One rarely seen film i like with Kaga Mariko- if people want to see more of her- is With Beauty and Sadness, based on the novel by Kawabata.
The prosthetic nose- i took her to be Mr Punch, or Judy.