Thursday, March 31, 2011

Akio Jissoji's Buddhist Trilogy

Life and death are a great matter, transient and changing fast

This is a mantra to the films. In all three of them, Mujo, Mandala, and Uta, Jissoji grapples with basic tenets of Buddist thought. Impermanence, emptiness, the practice and ethos of the faith, he calls these into question. For Bergman that question was posed and declined, the silence of God was answer enough to the spiritual anguish. The important thing to note as we enter into a dialectic with these films is that Jissoji, who was also brought up in a religious family like Bergman, made films for the Art Theater Guild. Like his mentor Nagisa Oshima and like Oshima's inspiration Yasuzo Masumura before him, he seeks out the individuality of his protagonists in a madness that defies society and liberates from it, in a youthful rejection of the old and stale. Jissoji's films then are not profound examinations of faith but radical portraits of rebellion, renderings of a contemporary society that will reflect the generation coming of age in it.
Buddhism in this case is the recipient of his scathing New Wave, Buddhist thought is formulated only to be rejected, to receive scathing contempt or bitter irony.
Mandalas are diagram symbols used as objects for meditation by esoteric Vajrayna traditions, they represent a sacred space for the concentration of the mind. What is revealed to take place inside this sacred space, how is our concentration challenged or rewarded? ....

Read the full article at Nihon Cine Art

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