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Outlaw-Matsu Comes Home

Outlaw-Matsu Comes Home

Shohei Imamura rejoins Fujita, one of the subjects of IN SEARCH OF THE UNRETURNED SOLDIERS IN THAILAND, for the former soldier's first trip home to Japan following his post-war exile.

Fujita's reunion with Japan is not a happy one. He learns that his parents were killed in Nagasaki, his sister and his children have fallen into poverty, and his successful brother resents him for his disappearance.

Fujita's angry reckoning with the gulf between pre- and post-war Japan makes for one of Imamura's most direct critiques of the abandonment he believed characterized the newly prosperous country. It also provides an opportunity for another meditation on the nature of documentary filmmaking, the director later writing:

"IN SEARCH OF THE UNRETURNED SOLDIERS was about former soldiers of the Japanese army who chose not to return to Japan after the war…Two years later, I invited one of them to make his first return visit to Japan and documented it in OUTLAW-MATSU COMES HOME. During the filming, my subject Fujita asked me to buy him a cleaver so that he could kill his 'vicious brother.' I was shocked, and asked him to wait a day so that I could plan how to film the scene. By the next morning, to my relief, Fujita had calmed down and changed his mind about killing his brother. But I couldn't have had a sharper insight into the ethical questions provoked by this kind of documentary filmmaking."

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