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Chronicles of Inferno: Japan’s Art Theater Guild

Thursday, February 14, 2013
7:00 p.m. Pastoral: Hide and Seek
Shuji Terayama (Japan, 1974)

Introduction/Miryam Sas

Miryam Sas is a professor in the Departments of Film and Media and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley.

(Den’en ni shisu). Even a lifetime of viewing Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures mixed with early John Waters and Alejandro Jodorowsky films would do little to prepare one for the color-filtered, cross-dressing, orgiastic, surrealist realms of Shuji Terayama’s Pastoral: Hide and Seek, one of the key underground films of the 1970s. Poet, playwright, and filmmaker, Terayama here revisits his childhood, or tries to, envisioning an uncanny world where his young self is joined by a rather masculine mother, some frighteningly mascaraed neighbors, and a traveling circus fond of pastel colors and group sex. Halfway through, though, we start again, as a filmmaker appears to announce, “My childhood is my own pack of lies.” Like the children (or ghosts) of the opening scene, one’s memories will also (and always) play “hide and seek.” The last film to play at ATG’s main Shinjuku Bunka theater, Pastoral Hide and Seek arguably marked the end of the company’s heyday, but it stands as a high point for Terayama’s remarkable vision.

• Written by Terayama, inspired by his collection of poems. Photographed by Tatsuo Suzuki. With Kantaro Suga, Hiroyuki Takano, Chigusa Takayama, Keiko Niitaka. (102 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, 35mm, Color, From The Japan Foundation, permission Toho)