Sunday, June 24, 2018

8 Hours' Terror

Follow the Bouncing Bus

(All images are iPhone photos taken of frames of the film playing off the Arrow Blu-ray of the film.)


If Paul McCartney were a student of the art of the Japanese cinema, he might refer to Suzuki's 1957 8 Hours' Terror [8-jikan no kyōfu] as a really quite sugoi little yarn. It's short and to the point — a story about the passengers on a suspension-challenged autobus getting from point A to point B after rail service to the outskirts of Tokyo has been suspended due to landslide. Before pulling out of the station, word hits that two bank robbers are on the lam in the vicinity of the bus route: to be honest, a rather wide danger-berth for a multi-hour drive, narrow and precarious though the starkly elevated mountain roads may be. The 1 hour 17 minutes of 8 Hours' Terror compress the journey, a play on time and space facilitated by the 1.37 ratio of the frame (here practically an accordion at rest in Suzuki-form), in which inevitability and improbability commingle: of course the robbers will show up to commandeer the transport; and after one of them bites it after being baited by the resident whore into a literal bear-trap (he screams in agony, "I'll tell the cops everything!" before his partner shoots him in the head), the surviving crook shows up on foot to lay siege to the bus once again after it's covered x number of kilometers. Jason Voorhees avant la lettre?

"So many different people on the bus! It's fate, isn't it!" remarks a craven lingerie salesman. The types onboard conform in shorthand to the assemblages in Maupassant's Boule de Suif [1880] and Ford's Stagecoach [1939] — the prostitute carrying a snapshot of a convalescing black G.I.; the badman who turns a new leaf for the sake of the group (and trawls a darker undercurrent than usually seen in these tales: a newspaper makes reference to his crime with the headline "WAR RETURNEE KILLS WIFE AND NEW HUSBAND"). We also acknowledge the debt owed to masterpieces by Shimizu (Arigatō-san [1936]) and Capra (It Happened One Night [1934]).



More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:

8-jikan no kyōfu [8 Hours' Terror, 1957]

Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty, 1958]

Fumi hazushita hara [Trampled Springtime, 1958]

Kage naki koe [Voice Without a Shadow, 1958]

"Jûsan-gô taihisen," yori: Sono gosôsha (w)o nerae ["Sidetrack No. Thirteen," or: Take Aim at That Police Van, 1960]

Kemono no nemuri [The Sleep of the Beast, 1960]

Subete ga kurutteru [Everything Goes Wrong, 1960]

Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze [Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass, 1961]

High-teen yakuza [Late-Teen Yakuza, 1962]

Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast, 1963]

Akutarō [The Bastard / The Badboy, 1963]

Akutarō-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo [Stories of Bastards: Even Under a Bad Star / Stories of Badboys: Even Under a Bad Star, 1965]