Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Gohatto - Taboo

1999 by Nagisa Oshima

It is very rarely that you watch a movie which have as the centre of plot, something that we do not like to be part of or even detest a lot, but still gets stunningly impressed by the whole movie. Homo sexuality is something that I cannot bear, though I understand and recognise that their feelings are part of nature too and I would always consider their rights to existence as important as mine. When I picked Gohatto dvd, I never thought I was going to experience some thing quite extra ordinary in cinema.

150 years ago in Japan, a recruitment for Samurais' is taking place in a Shinsengumi, a fuedal police force. Only two are chosen, Kano and Tashiro. Kano is the best warrior but he is charming and attractive and lot of samurais in the camp, including high officers fall for his beauty. There is a sea of suspicion and it is not sure who has fallen for him, who wishes to and who already have slept with him. At the same time, there are murders occuring too. 

Firstly, I never expected homo sexuality amongst a group of professional warriers, a group of men who could be termed the heights of Japaneese Machismo. Kano himself is the best warrior but when fighting against Tashiro, he is just ordinary as it is Tashiro who was the first to fall for him and who took punishment for him. There are lots of Taboos in the camp, but the intrusion of homo sexuality is left unchecked.

As one without much knowledge about Japaneese culture, this movie is not an easy movie to digest, especially since the sub titles didnt look perfect. But going after what we get to see, Gohatto is definitely a master piece. Everything is told in a subtle and restricted way that there is elegance all around. There is nothing happening in the action sense, but the whole plot is intriguing with full of surprise and suspense. We could still find ways and ways to explore more into the story and scenes.

I am still not sure if I understood the climax fully. Definitely this movie requires a second watch and I am afraid I will get too fond about this movie with each watch. There is a kind of subtle elegance written all through out the movie. And if ever we could call cinematography to be elegant, here is a prime contender. In fact the setting of the movie, the military camp, is devoid of colour. But what a work it is!! Brilliant use of lights and colours to go with the mood and in fact there is bare minimum movement from the camera. I wish Malayalam movie makers and reviewers watch this movie. It is important for all to see what exactly cinematography can do to a movie. Truly elegant work.

Still I must say, even if it is visually stunning and powerful by plot, the movie is still kind of cold. It is not going to touch us emotionally. I think that is what it is intended to be.