Unagi aka The Eel, written (with Daisuke Tengan, Motofumi Tomikawa , Akira Yoshimura) and directed by Shôhei Imamura
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Unagi has won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
And since this is the most prestigious award of all, if you ask me, it is evident that this film is exceptional.
The narrative is both simple and outré.
Takuro Yamashita is the hero.
Or maybe the anti-hero, for he commits murder.
We see him at the opening scenes in an office in Japan.
On the train, he reads an anonymous message:
- Your wife is cheating on you, when you go fishing…
And then he arrives home, where the spouse is asking all the normal questions, including about his plans:
- You are going fishing tonight, isn’t it?
- I prepared sandwiches for you…what are you fishing for?
- So there will be…here I am not sure…she said something like sushi or was it surinami…anyway it will not happen
The husband returns early from his fishing party, after leaving the food prepared by his wife with his fellow fisherman.
When he gets home, he stops at the window, with a horrified look that might haunt me for a few (only?) days.
In the bedroom, his wife is having wild sex with a man that seemed to me a bit violent and rough, but it also appeared consensual.
The moaning, evident excitement and intense pleasure of the woman could not have been but painful for the husband.
Notwithstanding his grief, the killing of his wife is of course abominable and it was done with repeated knife stabs.
The camera filming the scene is covered in red and so is the anti-hero of these gruesome moments of violence.
As he is, with clothes soaked in blood, Yamashita is jumping on his bicycle and rides to the police station where he surrenders.
Eight years of prison follow and I thought that he got off easily, for in America he could have been executed for the same crime.
He even has a pet coming out of jail, where the guards have pretended it is theirs, for it was against regulations:
- Unagi aka the Eel from the title that is the metaphor for the state of the protagonist, who has this pet because it cannot talk back and it could also betray a maladapted personality, with feelings of guilt and other issues
Yamashita opens a barber shop, but not before displaying some peculiar symptoms, such as starting running after a group of exercising men, with his pet eel in a bag with water in his hand…indeed those with him remark about the strangeness of this individual.
One day, the killer who has ended a human life has the possibility of saving another, a woman about to die.
True, instead of getting to the police, or better still an ambulance, Yamashita gets a neighbor first, worried about his status.
He is after all on parole for two years and any incident or trouble with law will return him to prison in aggravating circumstances.
A relationship develops between the former convict and Keiko, the depressed young woman who has attempted suicide.
She starts working in the barber shop, but it is a complicated evolution, with an attack of her and further consequences.
An excellent film, with a special atmosphere, challenging viewers to meditate on important subjects and think about life and its
- “Many-Splendored Things"