Jonouchi Motoharu played an important part in forming and collecting a wide variety of artistic institutions. He also formed and governed many of anti-art groups that included the cinema club formed at Nihon University, the Neo-Dada Club, and a cinematic research center known as VAN. His works demonstrated the devastation of what took place in Japan during World War II. It represents the experiences of the soldiers and civilians who were affected by the nuclear warfare of that time.
The frailty of life is a major subject of the films. People are shown in their vulnerability and the audience is allowed to view them from the perspective of the universe—which shows humans as tiny and inconsequential. It also shows the relative ease with which people’s lives can be destroyed. The films contained in this showing are “Hi Red Center Shelter Plan,” “Wols,” “Gewaltopia Trailer,” and “Shinjuku Station.” Showing these Motoharu films together highlights the violence that drives many of the processes of life.
In the film “Hi Red Center Shelter Plan,” one views an initial short of body measurements. Male and female figures are shown laid out and their measurements taken. These picture images shown at the beginning represent a comparison of the gender figures. One man is shown lying naked in the bathtub, and the coldness of the picture of him being measured like meat or material is poignant in its representation of the meaningless of humanity when life is looked at on grander scales.
Men and women are measured in different positions. They are made to stand facing the camera, and the made to turn around showing their backs toward the camera. They are also made to lie on the bed or to lie upside down on the bed.
The film “Wols” features a rapid montage of surreal pictures with changes occurring in a manner that shocks the senses. Each picture is shot at different angles to create an even greater shock on the senses, and to give a quick and fleeting image of perspectives. The “Gewaltopia Trailer” opens with a short of a right eye stenciled or branded with some Japanese words. These words are written on the eyelid. It is followed by two shots showing nuclear explosions. The sounds used in this film’s beginning and ending sequence is the voice of a woman moaning. The content of the film is very violent.
People are shown with helpless expressions on their faces. The entire film is filled with body parts of these people on which Japanese characters have been stenciled. Images of destruction are rampant, with such figures as King Kong and hellish features of life. Many images of fighting and union demonstrations are also found in the film. The camera angles itself from above and shoots down at the city representing increasing Japanese power
The final film by Jonouchi Motoharu, “Shinjuku Station” begins with a devastated world in shambles. People are shown passing through Shinjuku Station and cars are shot as they drive along the roadway. A man comes on the screen speaking Japanese and it is clear from his tone that he is upset. Despite his speech being in Japanese, he constantly repeats the word “station.” Over and over he says the word in this angry tone. The scene finally changes to a shot of a wide, grassy area and then the screen goes to black. This black screen is purposefully left to be viewed by audiences for approximately a minute. The music continues for this period of blackness in which the audience is left to think about what they have seen.
Humanity’s contribution to the violence in the universe is the them of Jonouchi’s works. Two of his films, “Gewaltopia Trailer,” and “Shinjuku Station,” form part of a series called Gewaltopia. This word is made up of two parts: “Gewalt,” which is German for “violence” and a truncation of the word “utopia.” This idea is characteristic of the films produced by Motoharu. He seeks to illuminate the world in which we live and highlight how its inhabitants (primarily humans) revel in the violence that they are instrumental in creating. The four films are shown together to highlight this fact, and as a means of demonstrating the historical and artistic significance of the war in demonstrating humanity’s culture of violence.
Jonouchi Motoharu Program. Anthology Film Archives. http://www.anthologyfilmarchives.org/schedule/search/film/?id=8528&height=400&widt h=730
Motoharu, Jonouchi. “Hi Red Center Shelter Plan.” 18minutes – 16mm. Japan 1964.
—. “Wols.” 18minutes – 16mm. Japan 1964.
—. “Gewaltpia Trailer.” 13minutes – 16mm. Japan 1969.
—. “Shinjuku Station.” 14minutes – 16mm. Japan 1964.
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