4.5, Japan

Vengeance is Mine

Life as Fiction (Through Time)

Vengeance is Mine by Shohei Imamura is the yearly favorite from 1979 as listed in Life as Fiction (Through Time): An Exercise in the Clockwork and Constriction of Cinematic History, a project to chronicle my favorite film from each year since 1921.

1979 / Shohei Imamura > For all the serial killer stories that have ever been put on the silver screen, none have approached the subject in a manner as blankly as this. Vengeance is Mine is a story about love—not that of a man and a woman, but about a human being vs. society. The way the dominoes fall don’t often go as planned, and sometimes killing a stranger and sticking his cold, dead body in the closet is necessary. For Iwao Enokizu, this is neither good nor bad. It is an action that complements his strategy for survival. There is no premeditation besides the obvious need to grow older, but in his eyes, one has a hard time seeing a rationale for even living. Ken Ogata’s performance as Iwao, for whom Japan led a 78-day manhunt in 1963, is chilling in its exactness as it captures the kind of stoic judgment the killer makes at will. His value of life is a mystery, but his existence is the kind of evil that myths are built around. He begs, over and over, a simple question to the viewer: Is it possible that there are those who cannot possibly be loved?

Originally posted on April 1, 2010 before inclusion into (Through Time).