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January 2000, Week 4


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Abe' Mark Nornes <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 22 Jan 2000 15:31:04 +0900
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I have been asking the following question of everyone I know, and so far no
one has been able to come up with any names:

****Are there any political filmmakers who have given up their art to
dedicate themselves completely to politics?

I have two names: Ronald Reagan and Adachi Masao.

Reagan's no so interesting, since his own filmmaking was 1) as an actor and
2) rarely overtly political, except for perhaps the war era and his campaign
tv commercials.

Adachi is a fascinating figure. He to filmmaking through an experimental
film group at a Japanese university, and then got involved in highly
political soft-core pink films with Wakamatsu Koji in the 1960s. As long as
there was amble sex, they could do anything in these films...high school
student guerrillas, Frankenstein gynecologists creating a new humanity, etc.
etc. He lead the movement to get Suzuki Seijun's job reinstated when Suzuki
was fired from Nikkatsu. He wrote scripts for Oshima Nagisa, and appeared as
an actor in Oshima's Death by Hanging. Adachi also wrote some of the more
radical film criticism and theory in the early 1970s, when he became
interested in the Red Army. After making a film with Wakamatsu on the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Beirut in 1972, and became
increasingly radical. He finally joined the Red Army around 1974 and
disappeared from Japan at the height of his career. He remained a legendary
figure until today, as no one knew his whereabouts until he was arrested
with 4 other Red Army members in Beirut last year, and he sits in a Beirut
prison as the Japanese government presses for extradition.

Everyone has assumed that Adachi's decision to become a terrorist and give
up filmmaking completely meant that he decided----at that interesting moment
in the early 1970s when so much was changing----art and politics don't mix.
That politically engaged filmmaking does not change the world, so the only
choice is violence.

Are there any other filmmakers who have left their art for politics, who put
down their camera and picked up a gun?

(I ask because I'm doing an interview-by-letter with him while he's in


A.M. Nornes
University of Michigan

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