Description: The Man Who Left His Will on Film (1970)
Director: Nagisa Oshima
The Man Who Left His Will on Film is an elegantly wry, engagingly challenging, and provocative exposition on identity, fantasy, and memory. Using bookend structure, recurring permutations of imagery and dialogue, and narrative disjunctions through film projection (and figurative interpenetration, as represented by Yasuko's (self) arousal as the footage from her dead lover's film is projected onto her body), Nagisa Oshima creates a virtual, infinitely recursive film within a film that explores the conceptual dualism (or more appropriately, multiplicity) innate in the filmmaking process. One aspect of this conceptual dualism is the idea of the camera as a revolutionary weapon, a philosophy that is farcically embodied by the highly ideological - but also perpetually idle and ineffective - film collective whose engagement in the social revolution is limited to trite, reductive regurgitations of Marxist one-liners, distanced (and botched) film documentation of an uprising (note that a member subsequently rationalizes that being in a demonstration does not necessarily mean that one is part of it), and principled acts of subversion through group authored formal protests (for the police seizure of the camera). This metaphor of "film as a weapon" is subsequently reinforced in an apparent daydream sequence as Motoki attempts to revisit the sites captured by the phantom filmmaker in order to drive his ghost away: Motoki begins to chase the phantom through the streets, and the image is unexpectedly intercut with a shot of a running Motoki rapidly firing a machine gun into the street. Contrasting the (comedic) inertia in the film collective's inability to act independently of one another, the film illustrates the innate hypocrisy (and inutility) of armchair intellectualism and unrealistic, impractical application of ideology as a means of effecting social change.