A Tsuchihashi Masahiro film





From suicide to reincarnation

Syouko Kawahara (movie critique)

    Taking a train for over an hour from Barcelona, and then a cable railway, you will reach a Benedictine monastery in Montserrat famous for the black Virgin Mary statue.
Behind the monastery rise mysterious craggy mountains. In contrast to the honest ascetic image of the monastery, the mountains remind me of the devil. Somehow, the mountains overhang the whole shape of Antonio Gaudi's Expiatory Church of the Holy Family - the symbol of Barcelona. In fact, Gaudi's creation of the Church was based on the strange craggy mountains of Montserrat.

    In the film "TRUTHS: A STREAM" Kyoko Tachibana and Shun'ichi Saeki create their own "grave" and seal it to produce a monument. The monument is just like the mountains and Gaudi's church. The construction of the church began in 1882 and it is still unfinished after more than a hundred years. Gaudi may have intended it to be forever unfinished.

    The "monument" of the couple in the film, however, is complete. The completion of the monument symbolizes the great power of the human spirit that can lead from suicide to reincarnation. Death and Reincarnation -- At the advent of the new century movie directors throughout the world are challenging this enormous theme: Such films include "Breaking the Waves" directed by Lars von Trier, "Pola X" by Leos Carax, and "Eureka" by Shinji Aoyama. In retrospect Andrei Tarkovsky was suggesting original sin and the relief of humans in his posthumous work "The Sacrifice". Some of the scenes from "TRUTHS: A STREAM" remind me of Tarkovsky.

     Masahiro Tsuchihashi, the director of the film, quotes Goethe's "God exists within nature" and Werner Herzog films as pantheism. The question of death and reincarnation vibrates at a low-pitch within our souls regardless of nationality, race, and religion -- the strange mountains may symbolize this.




- A carol for those who pursue the trend of beauty.

Hitori Fukuda (attendant at Yokohama Museum of Art)

    In 1974, the Mona Lisa Exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum drew nearly 1.5 million people. Yet, how many of them actually wondered why they were still impressed by a single painting that was created in a society with a different language, culture, and religion over 500 years ago? Their wonder directly links to the question - What is art? Conclusively speaking, the work was supposed to be a portrait but it also possesses the universal beauty value as well as a practical value - there is no better explanation.

    In the film "TRUTHS: A STREAM" director Masahiro Tsuchihashi confronts this deep-rooted query head-on; it is often answered unsettlingly in Japan today with the vague, conveniently localized Katakana word, "Art". Generally, people are very sensitive to conventional values based on the trends of the times, social structure, political system, and so forth. However, in terms of the universal value they are very insensitive until the moment of death, or pretend to be so.

    "TRUTHS: A STREAM" reminds us that it takes guts to stay focussed on and to pursue the universal value - which flows like an eternal spring - without any regard for current trends. As people grow older, the scenes, such as the ones displayed in a vivid color picture in this film, tend to escape their minds. For example, in a society which encourages consumption, forgetting the existence of the beauty of nature seems to be the first step in becoming an honorable citizen. We all build our lives on an individual utility value.

    Despite the bonds of her family, Kyoko, played by Yoko Yamashita, breaks off from the greedy politics which symbolize our country's social problems with deep-seated causes, where utility is the absolute value. The behavior of Kyoko and Shun'ichi based on a different standard than that of utility. And the people who are constricted to a world where everything is based on utility don't understand their behavior. Yet, their behavior and their own goodness will eventually relieve humanity, including those who have never understood them.

     In other words, actions that are not rooted in utility and pragmatic values maintain the flow of eternal universality, and as a result unintentionally relieve humanity. What the director foresees as the new value system may be of a fusion of beauties and religions.

     I haven't met a film as robust, as full of affection for humanity and art, as "TRUTHS: A STREAM" in a long time. The reason the film was first acclaimed in foreign countries must be because the director stays focused on the universal issues that lay beyond culture and religion.

    The film is a result of the depth of its structure and dialogues - it offers discoveries and the joys of solving new mysteries every time you watch it. Personally, it was fruitful for me to discover actress Yoko Yamashita. I can't think of any other actress apart from her who could naturally perform the role of Kyoko, who could carry the lengthy dialogues in an unruffled manner. Indeed, she is a product of the keen-insight of the director and the producer, Akiko Yoshikawa. I also respect the producer's considerable tolerance and motivation, which permitted the 3-hour running time - very unconventional, a significant difference from the industry standard.

For those who were involved, this film must mark their bright "start". And meeting the film as a viewer makes me anticipate the "start" as well. "Formidable provocation"




A game without goal

Hiroshi Eguchi (attendant at Kawasaki City Museum)

     "TRUTHS: A STREAM" is an amazing piece. It is extremely rare for a movie to leave viewers as much room for interpretation as this film does.

    The aggressive, loquacious debates of the main characters are very stimulating. Viewers, however, should not get caught up in following the dialogues. The running-time of this film is used to age and digest the information conveyed by the scenes and music rather than to develop the story-line. We should not indulge in just skimming the story; it must be read and thoroughly analyzed.

    Unlike a tour guide, the filmmaker offers no directions. You are given only a map and a compass - you must reach the goal on your own, led by your own perception and resources. The choices you make on the route are left to your discretion. Yes, it is exactly like a game where each viewer shapes a course of their own free will and completes it. The uniqueness of the game lies in the fact that the filmmakers have no particular goal set for you.

    In other words, watching this film is something like fitting an unpainted jigsaw puzzle together - one has to put the pieces together by analyzing certain codes (such as the presentation of natural activities, or the colored representation of the product of the gratuitous deeds of humans) exhibited in the movie.

    Not only that, the makers also call for the viewer's own completion of their illustrations. The picture can take any form. Having shared the three hours that this motion picture runs, viewers will complete the film subjectively and personally. This particular intention is clearly defined in the closing narration.

    After writing this review I watched the film once again. A question surfaced: "Doesn't the process of sedulously creating the object by the main characters convey the same meaning as producing this movie per se?" To find my own answer I will need further thought and growth. Tadao Satou (movie critic) This film abounds with scenes that can not be easily created no matter how much time you spend or persevere.



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