Sunday, March 15, 2009

Star Of David - The Hunt is Over

I discovered Star of David: Hunting For Beautiful Girls ('79) on Japanese VHS in the mid-80's.

Blending sex, violence, and Catholicism into a rich, aesthetic tableaux, it redrew the perimeters of cinema for me.

Norifumi Suzuki, the director, is amongst my Top 10 Favorite Directors of all time, the others being Shoehei Immamura, Martin Scorsese, Walter Hill, Kinji Fukasaku, Arturo Ripstein, Hayao Miyazaki, Roman Polanski, Sergio Leone and Kenji Misumi.

There have been several incarnations of this film on VHS and DVD, but the Eastern Star release, which streets at the end of this month, is the ultimate for English speaking audiences.

The beautiful print is a direct port from the mouth-watering Geneon DVD, released at the end of 2007.

I am so in awe of this film's virtues that I find it difficult to list them in order of greatness.

A career rapist breaks into the home of a misanthropic scholar and his wife. The wife is impregnated by the intruder, giving rise to her husband's hatred of his offspring. The boy is raised in an abusive environment and witness to his mother's humiliation and degradation at the hands of her unforgiving husband; during the rape, the woman had an orgasm.

When the boy inherits his father's fortune, his genetic predisposition expresses itself, and he builds a torture chamber fueled by Nazi literature, concentration camp fantasies, and a desire to purify the "unclean".

When he finally meets up with his natural father, he discovers a stark contrast between the man's raw animalism and his own desire to manipulate and "educate", rather than use women as convenient vessels for lust.

Much, good and bad, could and has been written about the politics, intellectual framework, and sexual dystopia of Star of David....

Criticisms of the film's inflammatory subject matter are the usual knee-jerk sermons that contribute zero to any intelligent discussion of the film.

As demonstrated on the Eastern Star DVD's brief but candid interview with Suzuki, as well as the superb commentary track, Suzuki is a non-Christian who is well aware of the cinematic power of the church's sacred symbols and depictions of sacrifice.

In his School of the Holy Beast ('74), he took religious imagery to a new nadir, although that film is far less dark than this one.

Although made for a very small budget at Nikkatsu, Star of David - Hunting for Beautiful Girls is a beautifully shot, sumptuously designed pink film from a true master of the genre.

I urge you to support this release in order to send a signal to the market (and to Eastern Star/Discotek Media) that licensing films of this nature can be a worthwhile, commercially viable endeavor.

What Assault Jack The Ripper DVD was to 2008, the Star of David - Hunting for Beautiful Girls DVD is to 2009.

5 comments:

  1. It's a shame Discotek's releases are so few and far between. I was a bit disappointed that the cut material from Ebola Syndrome was included as a special feature rather than reinstated in the film nut at least the transfer was clean and looked beautiful. I'll keep my eyes peeled for this one, I only have the R2 Japan Shock disc which was an okay looking disc but not great. Hoping the delicious colors in this release are more brilliant.

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  2. This disk, as I mentioned, is exactly the same as the Geneon, which has been my go-to version for the last year. The colors are vibrant. You won't be disappointed, d.

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  3. no surprise we share a fair number of favorite directors. german and japanese cinema (which share so much in common) has been a passion of mine for a long time and the work of imamura has always been at the top. if you've got some time to kill, here's an essay i wrote on the pornographers (my personal fave)

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  4. Yes, it's no surprise at all, Kotto. Several directors in my next twenty directors of merit are German.

    I just read and commented on your 'The Pornographers' piece at your blog.

    Very perceptive reading of the film.

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  5. it's an epic post (and probably a little dry) so thanks for taking the time to read and comment. ViM is a gem as well...one i should revisit since the last time i saw it was in a japanese cinema course i took in my film school days.

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