Dolls (Muñecas)-T. Kitano (Giappone, 2002/Japan): un bellisimo film…

 

 historia de una feliz pareja cuya relación, que cambiará de repente y para siempre convirtiéndoles en los “mendigos atados”, sirve como hilo conductor de la narración. Ellos son las dos “marionetas humanas” que dan título al film, pero además conoceremos otras dos historias de amor: una, imposible, el que Nukui siente por Haruna, su cantante favorita; la otra es el de Hiro, un anciano jefe yakuza que, arrepentido, emprende la búsqueda de su antigua amada, a la que abandonó para encontrar un porvenir mejor cuando sólo era un joven inconsciente, sin darse cuenta de que el mejor porvenir que podía aguardarle se encontraba a su lado.

 

 

Dolls es una de las películas más bellas que se hayan realizado en  Japón; es, una de las piezas individuales más originales del arte en el cine y por ironia, fue un fracaso enorme en la taquilla en Japón y fue ignorada por el mundo occidental.

 No es de extrañar de verdad, como “Muñecas” sea un film conceptual en casi cualquier aspecto, lo que hace muy difícil acercarse y entenderla, a menos que uno esté familiarizado con las ideas que estan detrás de “Muñecas” y los motivos que movieron a su director-Kitano- a realizarla.

Kitano, inicialmente jugó en hacer una película con hermosos colores y de personas que se amaban. Pero a medida que avanzaba la idea y el proyecto comenzó, la participación de los motivos del “Chikamatsu”; elementos narrativos de “Bunraku”, el simbolismo y los rituales japoneses; las estaciones del año, el código de colores, todo entrelazado para  realizar un solo recuerdo de la infancia de Kitano.

 Kitano complicó más las cosas, como siempre, por experimentar con nuevos enfoques de las estructuras narrativas y elipses cinematograficos.

En la superficie, Muñecas es una alegoría sobre el amor, con el típico  motivo de Kitano del equilibrio, aquí entre Giri (el derecho) y Ninjo (pasión). Por debajo de la superficie, Dolls es una celebración del amor, la vida, la muerte, la naturaleza, el examen de fatalismo y Chikamatsuian Shinjo contra el fatalismo Kitano y mucho más.

Con tantas cosas para meter en una película, es difícil no tener fallas, y ellas es una película imperfecta, sería injusto no reconocerlo, incluso Kitano no está contento con el resultado. Pero es difícil  poner el dedo sobre cualquier cosa y decir: “esto es por qué no”. Tal vez sea así, porque no falla. Tal vez decimos que no, porque estamos acostumbrados a una forma de Kitano y quiere renovarse a sí mismo constantemente. Tal vez esperamos demasiado, tal vez espera que poco, tal vez un montón de cosas. Pero el hecho es que sin importar que tan imperfecto que sea, independientemente de todos los tal vez, una vez terminada una vez descifrada sus códigos, todo confluye en algo tan hermoso, tan abrumadora, que no se puede hacer nada que dar.

Pero, ¿cómo   Muñecas Debería considerar el espectador casual, que no le hicieron caso y lo desestimó?

 Si me acerco a favor de los que decodifican / lo han decodificado y así se señala a su genio puro.
 Si la película exige dedicación de sus espectadores: un espectador  inferior o superior al de las películas que sólo entretiene, entonces todo se reduce a la pregunta: “¿Cómo es que el cine es un tipo de arte?”

La idiosincrasia pura de la película nos habla de la singularidad de la posición de Kitano se ha construido a sí mismo como un director … Él hace lo mejor que es capaz de hacer  cada proyecto que viene a su manera, los éxitos de felicitación con modestia propia desde la perspectiva de desaprobación y haciendo poco caso a las fallos, mientras se prepara para la próxima obra.  

La Trama ( Las Tramas…)

Matsumoto y Sawako fueron  una vez una pareja feliz que parecía destinada al matrimonio. Pero las presiones seculares de los padres y la la intromisión de su jefe en el trabajo y anhelo del éxito presionado por sus padres obligó al joven a tomar una trágica decisión.

 Ahora deambulan en un sueño sin sentido, atados a un mismo destino sanos y salvos atados  por una cuerda roja. Para los curiosos, ellos vagan sin rumbo fijo. Sin embargo, Matsumoto y Sawako se encuentran en un viaje en busca de algo que lamentablemente han olvidado. Un viaje que cubrirá las cuatro estaciones …

Hiro es un jefe  envejecido. Aunque rodeado por el respeto y la riqueza, Hiro está solo y su salud está fallando. Como un hombre joven, él era un pobre trabajador de fábrica con una amiga cariñosa que le llevaba el almuerzo en el parque. Sin embargo, la abandonó en busca de su sueño de hacer algo grande. Ahora, décadas después, es misteriosamente atraído hacia el parque donde solían encontrarse …

Haruna Yamaguchi pasa mucho tiempo en una playa aislada, mirando al mar. Su hermoso rostro está medio cubierto de vendas. No hace mucho tiempo, antes del accidente, Haruna fue una estrella del éxito del pop que vivía sola en un glamoroso mundo de programas de televisión y sesiones de autógrafos. Millones adoraba, deseaba estar cerca de ella. Nukui es probablemente su fan más devoto. Él ha venido hoy a probarlo …

Tres historias contemporáneas inspiradas en las emociones eterna expresadas por las preciosas muñecas del Teatro Bunraku. Tres historias delicadamente interrelacionadas por la belleza de la tristeza. Tres historias de amor eterno.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Atados a un destino

Dolls [2003]
Japón

Dirección: Takeshi Kitano  Guión: T. Kitano  Fotografía: Katsumi Yanagijima  Montaje: T. Kitano  Música: Joe Hisaishi  Intérpretes: Miho Kanno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tatsuya Mihashi  Distribuidora: Sherlock  Dolls es el título de la ultima película del director, escritor y actor Takeshi Kitano (Tokio, 1947), que después de 15 años de experiencia cinematográfica, ha decidido permanecer sólo detrás de la cámara, algo que no había hecho en sus últimas películas.

Basada en el pasaje The courrier for hell, Dolls es una historia de marionetas humanas, en la que dos amantes atados a un trágico destino caminan penosamente. El director utiliza el espectáculo de las marionetas Bunraku para abrir y cerrar una película con personajes humanos que tienen mucho de títeres inertes, las muñecas del título. El tempo narrativo es lentísimo y la introducción de personajes se alarga hasta casi la mitad de la película.Colorista y con una cuidada fotografía, Dolls se aleja de la monocromía utilizada en anteriores películas de Kitano para atreverse con los blancos, rojos y azules que tiñen los cerezos en flor, la hojarasca, la nieve y el mar, estaciones de un recorrido que quiere hacer sentir al espectador el lento transcurrir del tiempo (para logralo, Kitano rodó entre el 4 de noviembre de 2001 hasta el 7 de abril de 2002). La película está llena de saltos hacia delante y hacia atrás que confrontan situaciones de signo opuesto.Tres historias con un factor común, el desequilibrio de sus personajes y la deformación de la realidad se dan cita en la décima película de Kitano, que empezó a dirigir en 1989. El tema principal de la película es el mundo de las emociones; siendo el amor la emoción por excelencia, pero también juegan un papel importante otras como el remordimiento, la ambición, la libertad y la muerte. Dolls es una trágica historia de amor en un entorno contemporáneo. Los personajes son completamente egoístas, bajo la enajenación de una idea no son capaces de discernir la realidad de la ficción, tienen un destino y no son capaces de cambiarlo. No ejercen, como seres humanos que son, la libertad que les distingue de los personajes de guiñol.Kitano juega con la idea de la muerte como algo manipulable, el mismo director afirma que “la vida es algo que nadie puede elegir nunca, la muerte es algo que podemos elegir todos”. De este modo Kitano envuelve y decora la muerte con un adorno denominado amor; un falso amor mejor dicho.Dolls podría considerarse en muchos aspectos como una tragedia y en muchos otros como una sátira. Dejémosla, por tanto, en tragicomedia. Una película surcada por una irónica y desengañada mirada que va de la belleza a la frialdad, del bien al mal. Con un fatalismo desesperanzador que termina por resultar sospechosamente pedante.

Beatriz Moreno de la Fuente

 

 

“Dolls” is a film which represents a change of pace for legendary Japanese filmmaker Takeshi Kitano, a man best known in the West for his violent, often abstract gangster epics. “Dolls” represents the first time Kitano has chosen not to appear in a self-directed effort in 6 years, a decision which may well have been made to help distance audiences from the unavoidable associations made with his usual roles. This was probably a good idea, as “Dolls” is a very different proposition indeed, a collection of three stories, all of which are meditations on the crueler side of love, and the bitter emotions of guilt and blind devotion which so often drive human passion. Although there is some violence, and the inevitable inclusion of a Yakuza-themed sub plot, the film is a moving work of fragile beauty, with some truly stunning imagery, and which ranks amongst the director’s best.

The film begins with scenes of ‘bunraku’ puppetry, an ancient form of storytelling from Japan, which Kitano goes on to use several times as a thematic link, showing the characters at the mercy of their all-consuming hearts. The narrative takes the form of an at times surreal triptych, starting with the tale of the ‘bound beggars’, two silent lovers who wander the countryside, tied together with a long red piece of rope. As we learn more about the events which brought them to this sad destiny, the film gradually begins the second tale, that of an aging Yakuza boss haunted by a lost love from his past, and offered what seems to be a second chance. This in turn leads into the final story, which centres upon a once beautiful pop singer, disfigured by an accident, who comes into contact with an obsessive, lovesick fan.

The narrative is skilfully woven, and Kitano (who also wrote the script) manages to make the plot well structured, yet almost dreamlike, and the three tales at times feel more like allegories than anything else. This approach lends itself perfectly to the film’s thoughtful, explorative nature, and manages to be both intelligent and refreshingly open without ever sliding into pretension or artistic incomprehensibility. Most importantly, although the characters are somewhat sketchily written, having the overall impression of being cipher-like puppets, their emotions are truly heartfelt.

As a result, the film is very moving and incredibly sad, as Kitano allows cruel fate, as well as the weaknesses of the characters to bring tragedy crashing down, time after time. The most rewarding aspect of “Dolls” is that Kitano gives no easy answers, or indeed clear signs as to what the viewer is meant to be taking from the characters and their sad destinies. There are no emotional cheap shots or obvious resolutions, and this lack of moral judgment gives plenty of stimulating interpretive freedom.

In addition to such emotional resonance, “Dolls” is visually stunning, and the work of cinematographer Katsumi Yanagishima (who also worked with the director on “Zatoichi” and “Sonatine”, as well as the likes of “Battle Royale”) is comparable at times to that of Christopher Doyle’s work in “Hero”. The Japanese countryside is brought to life with a wonderful array of muted colours, which at times flare into passionate explosions in a way which truly enthralls. The landscape is treated like an artist’s canvas, and the film’s beauty is such that it almost becomes a piece of visual poetry. Kitano utilises this splendour, harnessing its power by imbuing it with a complex symbolism which reflects the emotions of the characters, often in the absence of dialogue.

Unfortunately “Dolls” is a film which also has its flaws, chief amongst which is the slow pace. Although the proceedings are thoughtful and engaging, there are inevitably long stretches where little happens. Whilst the film’s visuals ensure that these intervals are far from being worthless, the plot and characters do at times feel somewhat forgotten. Along with the film’s abstract musings, “Dolls” is likely to disappoint many of the director’s regular fans, or those expecting explosive action. Although there is some violence in the film, they generally take place off screen, and Kitano chooses instead to focus on their aftermaths, and the emotional suffering they cause, rather than on the violent acts themselves.

For those who enjoy thoughtful, challenging cinema, “Dolls” is highly recommended, as a film of great beauty and sensitivity which will also challenge both the heart and mind. A hugely rewarding and brave move for Kitano, 2002′s “Dolls” serves to cement his status not only as a film maker of high repute, but indeed as an artist who deserves recognition beyond the cult following he has amassed in the West for his gangster films.

BEYOND HOLLYWOOD

Dolls

Story: Matsumoto (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is forced by his parents to marry the daughter of a company boss. His true love Sawako (Miho Kanno) can’t live with Matsumoto’s decision and tries to commit suicide. When Matsumoto hears about this, he just leaves the wedding party, ditches the bride and heads to Sawako. But his former girlfriend is just a shell of her former self and doesn’t recognize anyone anymore, even not Matsumoto. Being plagued by feelings of guilt and driven by his love, Matsumoto takes a trip with his girlfriend to whereever their road might lead them, in the hopes of reawakening old memories.
On their search they also come across other people who could share a story of tragic love themselves. Yakuza-Boss Hiro (Tatsuya Mihashi) remembers his old love, who promised to wait for him in a park every saturday. To his very surprise, when visiting the park, Hiro has to find out that after all these years that have passed, Ryoko (Chieko Matsubara) is still holding onto her promise and is waiting for him. However, nowadays Hiro has enemies that seek his life, and so this love remains merely a thin ray of hope, that he may never come to experience.
Furthermore, there is also Nukui (Tsutomu Takeshige), who is worshipping Pop-Idol Haruna Yamaguchi (Kyoko Fukada), who one day is involved in an accident, which leaves her with only one eye. In order to meet his beloved anyway, Nukui makes a big sacrifice…
Review: Many critics see Takeshi Kitano as one of the best directors of Japan. As a matter of fact, Kitano has found his own recognizable style and way of making movies. Long camera shots with numerous close-ups, static camera work and minimal use of dialogues are part of his standard repertoire. We also get to see this stuff in “Dolls”. Still, this drama is different from his other works as “Hana-Bi” or “Brother” in the way that there are almost no Kitano-characteristic sudden bursts of violence. Apart from a little side story revolving around a Yakuza boss he also refrains from focusing his story on the tale of a member of the japanese mafia as he usually does. In this respect, “Dolls” is a special film of Kitano, which has tragic love, guilt and retribution as central themes.
Unfortunately, the drama has to abandon the field because of Kitano’s typical flaws conerning his directing, that are especially apparent in this work of his.
“Dolls” tries, and at some points it also succeeds, in being a different film of what we are used to see from Kitano. However, one thing you just can’t overlook, no matter how much good will you are ready to give, is the way Kitano introduces his characters and is directing his movie. Over and over again we are presented with individuals that stare into the camera in sudden lengthy close-up shots, whereas Kitano takes all the time in the world to introduce the characters this way. There is also some variety in form of long panorama shots, which create a certain distance to the events on screen. Kitano’s quiet and static way of filming is somewhat getting boring, these days, as he just doesn’t seem to be willing to come up with anything new. This time he is even going a step further, reaching a new level of tranquility, since he was the man in charge, being responsible not only for the direction and script, but this time also for the editing. Therefore, he had complete artistic freedom, leading to seemingly endless snapshots, that become really tedious with time. We are constantly striving to discover some of the hidden symbols or a certain meaning lying within the pictures, but concerning the interpretion of these, you might be left behind with nothing in the end. The symbols Kitano is scattering throughout his film are rather apparently worked into his movie, which still doesn’t mean that it’s easy to grasp their meaning.
The absolutely somniferous pacing is without a doubt the biggest weak point of “Dolls”. Kitano seems to be putting his focus on the mood and atmosphere of his work, and he really achieves a lot with this. Anyway, he really makes it hard for the viewer not to fall asleep. By now I consider myself a friend of tranquil dramas, but Kitano really demands too much patience of the viewer. Since I don’t drink coffee, I was forced to keep myself awake with lots and lots of cola in order to get my share of caffeine to withstand the urge to doze off and to remain mentally present until the movie’s end. In the long run, stuff like this surely doesn’t do my level of blood sugar any good…
Moreover, “Dolls” looks too much like overstyled art most of the time. We get many symbols that are waiting to be analyzed, which however becomes really hard when not being provided with any tools or hints that might lead us into the right direction. Especially the dream sequence of Sawako is once again one of those sleight of hand stuff that is radiating the term “art” and which Kitano really loves to make use of. It is full of hidden meaning, but it’s also alienating. “Dolls” is full of symbols fraught with meaning. Still, decrypting them is so hard at times, that we really have to question if Kitano actually had something specific in mind, or worked them into his work just for the sake of art itself. Or maybe the writer of these lines just isn’t adequately mentally equipped…
Imparted with a very slow pacing we accompany Matsumoto and Sawako on their aimless trip, in the hope that they might regain their memories of the past and find their mutual love again. Although Takeshi Kitano tries hard, he somewhere along the way must have become aware that he can’t just fill his movie with the two main protagonists, tied to each other with a red rope, stumbling through the different places and fields, only.
Thus, Kitano incorperates two more stories into his work, which are about an extreme form of love, too. That’s also where the problem lies as the two stories are in no way connected to the main story, besides a loose thread provided by the same theme of unfulfilled love. Therefore, it’s no wonder that they somehow feel carelessly thrown into the movie, without aiming for a coherent whole.
Also disappointing are the actors’ efforts. Their performances range from wooden to cold. Only Miho Kanno manages to bestow a certain subtle, tragic drama upon her character. Tatsuya Mihashi, on the other hand, is the only one who manages to give his character something similar to depth.
Of course, there are also some upsides. The cinematography, especially in the second half, stands out with its fantastic full colors, which gives the characters’ journey through the landscapes of different seasons a certain kind of undeniable romantic and beauty. Red seems to be the main motif standing for life, love and death. Cinematographer Katsumi Yanagishima, who is also responsible for the pictures in many of Kitano’s other works, does a great job and along with the moody score of Joe Hisaishi manages that the monotonous and tedious walks of the main actors can get a more positive side to it, so that we are almost willing to forgive the film many of its flaws.
However, the movie’s ending is somewhat predictable. Especially the fact that the rope around Sawako and Matsumoto was going to play a macabre role later on, was pretty clear for me even in the beginning. Anyway, where this drama is heading to is already hinted in the Bunraku puppet play at the beginning, so no big surprise here.
What’s really disappointing in “Dolls” is the characters. They are lacking any development and despite numerous flashbacks that are inserted into the movie, they also lack any depth. This is why we can never emotionally connect to them and are not affected by whatever fate may await them.
You have to give Takeshi Kitano some credit for the fact that he almost completely abstains from violence which is already some sort of handwriting of his. If it actually comes to some more violent moments, these scenes are just fading out.
“Dolls” surely is a drama that shows us the more soft spot of Kitano, but it fails to deliver because of shallow characters and a somniferous pacing. Furthermore, the movie just feels too much like a overstyled piece of art.
Reading this review you might be thinking that “Dolls” is a bad movie, or that the writer of this article is in truth a Kitano-hater. Nothing of this is actually the case. I respect Kitano for his work, but I just would like to see that he would change the bearing of his directing. “Dolls” may score with its beautiful cinematography, and at times the meaning-loaden pictures can also be quite touching when you take your time reflecting about them (and believe me, you get that time), but the incredibly slow pacing, a story that feels to episode-like and underdeveloped characters make this movie one of the inferior films by Kitano.
 
 
 

 

Japan 2002

 

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