Far East Film Festival 20

Udine Italy April 20th/ April 28th 2018
The Film Festival For Popular Asian Cinema
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
Friday, April 22, time 11.30 AM

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Branded To Kill

A butterfly as light as air lands on the barrel of the rifle of the fearsome Hanada, who is the third ranked hitman in the list of most ferocious killers in the country. A butterfly similar to the ones collected by Misako, the mysterious woman who commissioned this assassination and which he has failed miserably to carry out. The rules speak clearly: failure means being eliminated yourself.
But was it really that ultra-light creature that extinguished his lucidity? Or was it a sudden feeling of love for Misako which clouded his senses? This is the question that Number One Killer asks him. The presence of this enemy wafts around throughout the whole of the story, and eventually comes to the fore to kill Hanada: not with a single shot, a bullet to the heart, not an abrupt end. Number One Killer works by wearing down his enemy, weakening him, besieging him. Will Hanada manage to survive this unnerving duel?

Suzuki Seijun, the bad guy of Nikkatsu, the dissident director, shot this film, a massive tiny straw that broke the camel’s back, fifty years ago, and a year later, in 1968, he was fired by the company for not obeying the rules, because his films were incomprehensible, because he had turned the action genre into a parody, ridiculing the image of the studio he worked for.
And thus Branded to Kill became, in an era of great fermentation, a symbol of the counterculture meeting the avant-garde art, in a snapshot of the new esthetics of the time.
In the relationship between Hanada and Number One Killer, many saw the vexations the director suffered under the hands of the Nikkatsu chiefs. And in the brightly sparkling towers that pepper the film, we see the indiscriminate real-estate growth that characterized post-Olympics Tokyo.
With his usual spontaneity, in an interview of a few years back, Suzuki Seijun declared that he had simply made an action film with a nude scene, and a lot of the credit should go to the collective behind the screenplay, Guryu Hachiro, with each participant bringing their own personal vision of the world and life.

This interview is an extra on the special edition DVD and blu-ray of Branded to Kill, restored by Criterion Collection, and released by CG Entertainment in Italy, dubbed into Italian or in the original language with updated subtitles. The box-set – the project was crowdfunded by Start Up! by CG Entertainment – also includes a rare book by Tom Vick, Time and Place are Nonsense: The Films of Seijun Suzuki (Smithsonian Institution, 2015), an exhaustive and compelling overview of the complete works of the great director, translated and edited into Italian by CG Entertainment.


Lucia Pavan
Film director: 
Suzuki Seijun
Year: 
1967
Running time: 
98

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