Seijun Suzuki Week


If it seems as though I favour Japanese films, that is likely because of this director’s influence.  Seijun Suzuki started out directing B Movies and became known for Yakuza genre pictures.  But what set him apart was a sense of surrealism, which his producers at Nikkatsu did not appreciate.  Yet this irreverent style, likely the product of a bored director whose abilities were not being fully utilized on the generic scripts he was handed.


I mentioned the idea of nihilistic cool in a few reviews last week and it is in the works of Seijun Suzuki that that idea really took form.  His irreverence in combining avant garde aesthetic with pulp sensibilities has had a marked impact upon Japanese cinema, he used experimental techniques to push the violence and dark themes, setting the stage for the likes of Takashi Miike, Kinji Fukasaku, Shin-ya Tsukamoto, and many more.  I think when many people call Japanese media strange it is not because Japanese people are inherently strange, but because Suzuki made surrealism mainstream and that has had an indelible effect on their popular media


His style was not just strange but also uniquely Japanese.  American influence had defined much of the entertainment landscape, American genres, particularly film noir, weas the primary influence on the B movie projects given to Suzuki.  He warped elements of the stories to create a greater national identity, he considered many of the heroes to be American characters at heart and by working in traits to set them apart nationally, Suzuki inadvertently led the way for the modern yakuza movie.


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