The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan (1970)


By 1970 Nakada Tatsuya  was a big star and received top billing in Shinoda’s historical burlesque “The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan” (in Japanese, simply “Buraikan” — Kochiyama, played by Tamba Tetsurô (Harakiri, The Castle of Sand)  is a lone wolf fomenting rebellion, who also plays the musical instrument, the buraikan). Nakadai, not the title character, is the real focus (star) of the movie. He plays an idler who wants to be an actor. His character, Naojiro, has a very possessive mother whom he dumps over a bluff into a river and, at the end, has trussed up and is taking to dump somewhere again.


The music supplied by Satô Masura rather than Shinoda’s usual composer Takemitsu Toru— was a jarring mix of modern jazz and traditional Japanese music. Shinoda also tried out cinematographer Okazaki Kôzô, who had just shot “Goyokin” and whom Shinoda would also have shoot “The Petrified Forest” for Shinoda” and “I Am a Cat” for Ichikawa). Like other Shinoda movies, there are many striking visual compositions and the beginning of extreme color design in Shinoda films.

The pessimistic (about injustice being revoked) movie lacks continuity, if not altogether lacking in sense. Shooting off banned fireworks doesn’t overthrow the puritanical reformer Lord Mizuni (Igawa Hasashi, whom Kurosawa cast in many of his late movies), and no significant change in law or policy results from the rebellion(s).


Despite some more kabuki-like stylization, “Buraikan”  was a fall-off from the amazing peak of “Double Suicide.”

©2016, Stephen O. Murray


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