Posted by martinteller on August 11, 2012
If I were to do one of those posts that was simply a collection of screenshots, you might be very intrigued. It’s a film stuffed with incredibly striking (and sometimes disturbing) images. Elaborate costumes, blatantly artificial sets, arresting use of color, compositions both beautifully balanced and intriguingly off-kilter. I had a hard time picking just one shot for this review (I eventually just went with the first one that really struck me). Cinematographer Tatsuo Suzuki had previously done Funeral Parade of Roses and shows similar talent here, always keeping the visual style exciting. There’s also a fine score by Tôru Takemitsu, who has a long and impressive list of credits… including Dodes-kaden, which this music reminded me most of.
However, as stylishly wonderful as the film’s aesthetics are, I had a much harder time becoming engaged with its content. The story – about a 3rd century shaman queen, a clash between sun-god worshippers and land-god worshippers, and the incestuous relationship that exacerbated that conflict — is difficult to follow and delivers interesting dramatic conflict only in brief spurts. To put it simply, I just didn’t care very much. It was mildly interesting to see the political machinations being interwoven with religious concerns, but for the most part I found it… well, I hate to use the word, but dull.
Shinoda has been all over the map with me. What I’ve seen of his work so far is always stylish, but my appreciation is largely dependent on how I connect with the narrative. On the high end is Double Suicide, on the opposite end is Samurai Spy. This is closer to the lower end of the scale, but I remain curious to see more by him. Rating: Fair (67)