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A near-masterpiece from the legendary Japanese avant-garde artist Shuji
Terayama, 40 minutes long and originally included in a French movie
package Private Collections, the other two films of which were directed
by Walerian Borowczyk and Just Jaeckin. Grass Labyrinth, apart from
featuring cult comedy director Juzo Itami in a small role, is also
blessed with J. A. Saezer's lullabyish soundtrack which sometimes also
consists of heartbeats played along with a recording of someone
Grass Labyrinth is, like most of Terayama's works, self-reflective and
filled with many references to his childhood. Leitmotifs from his other
films are present here as well, such as windmills, bridal headdresses
worn by his overprotective mother, the attractive/nymphomaniac
neighboring girl whom the protagonist's mother forbids him to see,
Oedipal complex, the father who's also a naval officer, circus freaks,
the protagonist getting forcefully "seduced" by a woman, etc. It has
the most similarities to his movie Pastoral: To Die in the Country, so
I guess you could call this one Pastoral 2.0.
The protagonist in this movie travels the land to find the lyrics to a
lullaby his mother may have sang to him. Of course, knowing Terayama,
this journey becomes a psycho-sexual, surreal voyage through space and
time filled with eroticism, symbolism and strange landscapes. All of
this culminates in the final, adrenaline-ridden scene where the hero
faces off against aforementioned freaks.
Grass Labyrinth is ultimately a movie with some unforgettable imagery;
round "pregnancy stones" which turn sterile women fertile, a man
fondling a naked woman with a calligraphed body on a seashore, the hero
watching children play in a barren desert. I'd call it a film of its
kind, but Terayama can produce much weirder stuff, so this is where I
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