United Red Army

The American occupying force brought their democracy to Japan, encouraging freedom of speech. But the spirits that they summoned would not let go. When America committed its new allies to the Cold War, Japan’s students set themselves against the state and were relentlessly persecuted. At the end of February 1972 the nation was rocked by a ten-day siege of the Asama skiing lodge, an event that was exploited in all the media, and during which two policemen died. But the first victims of the militant students weren’t representatives of state power, but their own comrades: Before it even came to combat with the police, 14 young people had fallen victim to the fanaticism of the “United Red Army.” Wakamatsu’s film is the earnest attempt to process the shock that the Japanese left was experiencing at the time, and to grasp the motivation of the militant students. In three acts, the film traces the “Path to Asama Sanso”. A docufiction, underscored with electrifying psychedelic rock music, illustrates the radicalization of the universities during the sixties. The inquisition-like hell of the training camps in the snowy mountains is staged as a claustrophobic chamber play. The combat around Asama lodge, filmed entirely from the perspective of the shut off militants, symbolizes the failure of a movement that had hopelessly gotten on the wrong track.
Christoph Terhechte
by Wakamatsu Koji
with Namiki Akie, Sakai Maki, Arata, Jibiki Go, Onishi Shima, Uda Takaki, Kokido Toshimitsu, Tamoto Soran, Okuniki Kaoru, Sano Shiro, Harada Yoshio
Japan 2007 190’

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Wakamatsu Production, Inc.

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