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September 29, 2005

A Star Athlete, 1937

star_athlete.gifHiroshi Shimizu's government-pressured, militarism-era film A Star Athlete is a breezy, refreshingly lighthearted, and subtly subversive slice-of-life comedy that centers on an all-day student march in formation and armed combat drills through the rural countryside for military training exercises. Shimizu demonstrates his deceptively facile adeptness and virtuoso camerawork through a series of extraordinarily choreographed plan sequence shots: a track-and-field race around the campus track between the school's start athlete Seki (Shuji Sano) and his constantly spurring - and sparring - team mate (Chishu Ryu); an extended dolly sequence of the students' march as bemused villagers and flirtatious, love-struck young women alternately respectfully step aside, playfully trail, obliviously obstruct, and amorously chase the dashing students in uniform; a mock battlefield charge assault through muddy fields as a guilt-ridden motley crew of travelers on the road scramble to flee from the students in a mistaken belief of being chased in retribution for their petty transgressions during their brief stay in the village.

Posted by acquarello on Sep 29, 2005 | | Filed under 2005, Hiroshi Shimizu, Shochiku at 110


I finally got to see this film. I enjoyed it quite a bit -- but was surprised at the extent to which this seemed to be an almost purely abstract (albeit ebulliently so) study of motion.

Posted by: Michael Kerpan on Dec 11, 2005 9:17 PM | Permalink

It did very much remind me of a motion study, like a series of Tarr or Jancs├│ panning exercises played for comedy.

Posted by: acquarello on Dec 12, 2005 9:41 AM | Permalink

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