The late Kôji Wakamatsu was just past 70 when he made this grim, but compelling film about the small, but lethal local Maoist cult that emerged in Japan like a toxic residue after the mass global student uprisings of the late-‘60s had evaporated. The opening half hour plays out as docu-drama, with newsreel clips of the period interspersed with recreations and perhaps too much expository narration. But hang in there because the film soon evolves into a full character piece. Once the authorities start taking out key members of the ultra-left, we follow two of the most extreme organizations who join forces to secretly train in the hills for their soon-to-come labors as catalyst to the revolution with acts of violence & anarchy. But when the small cult of true-believers find themselves removed from capitalist hostilities & constant police surveillance, they start turning on themselves with deadly tests of communist purity tearing them apart from within. Political self-delusion soon has them ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’ of revolutionary correctness while the authorities, more felt than seen, start to close in. Not an easy watch, and as emotionally dry as late-Godard, but powerfully argued by Wakamatsu who shows the control of a master.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: How odd that these young militants question every aspect of their own culture & society (quite rightly, too), yet blindly parrot whatever New Order dogma they are fed.