The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On

Kazuo Hara’s bizarre 16-millimeter documentary — a project originally conceived by Shohei Imamura — follows Kenzo Okuzaki, a survivor of the World War II battlefields in New Guinea with a bee in his bonnet about the deaths of over a thousand Japanese soldiers there, as well as the execution of several soldiers in his unit. Ultimately blaming Emperor Hirohito for these disasters, Okuzaki was arrested in 1969 for using a slingshot to fire several balls at the emperor. During the early 80s, when this film was shot, he visited various soldiers who had survived the New Guinea disaster, trying to get to the bottom of things, and on two occasions resorted to on-camera violence. Okuzaki initiated the making of this 1987 film, and while it bears a certain resemblance to some of Werner Herzog’s documentaries (as well as Marcel Ophuls’s), the results are more provocative than illuminating. In Japanese with subtitles. 122 min. (JR)

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