Monday, October 08, 2018

The Man with a Shotgun

Buckshot Points

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


The Suzuki/western trope of the drifter passing through a locale; good guy, bad syndicate. The western, but set in a locale more like the Pacific Northwest than the barren avenues, the badlands. Staged on Mt. Shūrei, The Man with a Shotgun [Shotgun no otoko, 1961] positions itself within the line of Japanese forest pictures, but in this instance the movie is framed from high angles, the perspective of the calm hovering predator (Floating Clouds, fate) as opposed to the vertiginous groundedness of the prey (Rashōmon, chaos).

Ryōji (Hideaki Nitani) arrives at the Nishioka Lumbermill on the pretense of a hunting excursion. (Mumbles one local: "Everyone who comes here has some secrets.") Three badmen — the bodyguards of the owner Nishioka (Akio Tanaka) — trail Ryōji through the sloping forest paths on the way into town, then mount an ambush which the drifter will reverse before continuing onward. From here, and across repeated attempts on the part of the assailants to subdue Ryōji, Suzuki cuts up and confuses space. One of the brigands rematerializes at the distant end of a handmade suspension bridge Ryōji's in the process of crossing, and chops at a support rope until the latter plunges into the stream below. Cut to: A near identical bridge, the villains crossing in a now expanded group look right out of frame and find Ryōji sunbathing on the rocks, his clothes drying out nearby.

Most of Suzuki in this era involves two characters talking plot logistics. Psychology an afterthought. 'Act drastically.' — But Suzuki was hired to direct these bum scenarios handed down from the main office of Nikkatsu. It was a hell studio. The scripts contain a lot of 'I'll back down this time — but next time I won't!' + the avoidance of the just-stated threat, no shooting the opponent dead. But here, for instance, in The Man with a Shotgun, we're already inside a lawless alpine town.

end of what I have to say right now



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]

Mikkō 0 Line [0-Line Stowaway, 1960]

Subete ga kurutteru [Everything Goes Wrong, 1960]

Tōkyō knight [Tokyo Knights, 1961]

Shotgun no otoko [The Man with a Shotgun, 1961]

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]