Outlaw-Matsu Comes Home

Directed by Shohei Imamura

48 minutes / Color
English; Japanese / English subtitles
Release: 2012
Copyright: 1973

film still
Outlaw-Matsu Comes Home is included on the same DVD as The Pirates of Bubuan

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."

"The complexity of Fujita's feelings and psychology defies any easy conceptualization. Such insights, Imamura suggests, are available far more to the outcast than to the mainstream of society...So Imamura makes sure there are no clear lessons to be drawn, only brilliantly assembled portrayals of the mixture of atrocity and tenderness that constitutes humanity."—David Auerbach, Waggish

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