The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On
(Yuki yukite shingun)

Screening on Film
Directed by Kazuo Hara.
Japan, 1987, 16mm, color, 122 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.
Print source: Shisso Production, Inc.

Hara’s best-known film is also his most controversial: a portrait of Kenzo Okuzaki, a radical anti-Imperialist activist and convicted criminal, imprisoned for murdering a real estate agent and for shooting pachinko balls at the Emperor of Japan. Okuzaki’s dark experiences as a veteran of the brutal Japanese occupation of New Guinea inspired him to denounce the Emperor as a war criminal, a stance far from the mainstream of Japanese society at the time and to this day. Hara’s film finds Okuzaki now doggedly hunting down the members of his outfit to uncover the mysterious execution of two of them, days after Japan’s surrender. Aided by Hara, Okuzaki arrives unannounced at the homes of the now-elderly soldiers, ambushing and accosting them with difficult and unrelenting questions about their guilt and awareness of their, and the Japanese nation’s, crimes. Okuzaki’s bold aggression drives Hara’s film dangerously forward, lurching even into paroxysms of violence as the tireless Okuzaki attacks his former commanders and fellow soldiers not just with his sharp questions and accusations but also with his fists. The unspeakable crimes revealed over the course of The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On makes clear the potential of Hara’s camera-as-weapon (or wrecking ball) attitude, as the “actions” staged together with Okuzaki reveal far more than even the zealous agitator had set out to expose.

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