Friday, December 23, 2011

Bones in a Pit

The ugliness and viciousness of depravation coalesce in a demoniac distortion of women in Kaneto Shindo's 1964 film Onibaba. Set at the beginning of a long period of bloody civil war, the film uses elements of myth to tell a very effective, very raw story of regular people adapting to a beastly reality. A reality where old moral perspectives become brutal, arbitrary traps.

The story concerns an unnamed peasant woman and her daughter-in-law who, as the story opens, have taken to murdering samurai and soldiers fleeing battle, taking their armour and weapons to trade them for millet as the constant battle and rampant thievery in the area have made farming all but impossible. The movie opens with a dark, ominous shot captioned "The Hole" before it's revealed this is the hole where the two women dump the bodies of men they've stripped. Already we're getting a very blatant, dark take on womanhood before the more literal plot begins, where a wedge is driven between the women by the return of their neighbour, Hachi.

Hachi went off to be a soldier along with Kichi, the older woman's son and the younger's husband. Hachi tells them Kichi's been killed and soon Hachi gets to work seducing the younger woman. The older woman is brought to agitation both by jealousy borne of sexual frustration and by the realisation that she probably can't keep up killing soldiers without the help of the younger woman, whose trysts threaten to result in marriage to Hachi.

In an effort to dissuade the young woman from the course of nature, the older woman invokes religion, aided in this task when she takes a demon mask from a samurai she kills.

When virtually everyone is a killer and a thief, the fact that some seem to incur divine punishment while others don't comes across as particularly terrible sorting of matters. The movie's told from the point of view of the older woman, whose desperate actions are mingled with the blows to vanity that come with aging. It underlines a sort of oppressive portrait of a world where the facade of justice is shown to conceal chaos.

Twitter Sonnet #336: Dairy Crisis Edition

Hidden leopards spread the cheese on bagels.
Heated blue pencils fill the topless Page.
Famished ramen noodles trace swan angles.
Things unsought by a level eighty mage.
Polygraph wrinkles fade under white out.
Golden pinfeathers fly at the teller.
Strips of spinach metal spoil a spout.
Burning tin's an ephemeral seller.
Correct pet calendars are quickly sold.
The lost ice cream returns in a decade.
The mind's gelatinous toppings grow old.
Soon synaptic sprinkles from fillings fade.
Cowbell sponges soak up heavy alarm.
Desperate grass means to do the bovine harm.

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