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Asia-Pacific

Miike’s Shield of Straw draws mixed reactions

media Still from "Wara No Tate" or Shield of Straw by Japanese director Takashi Miike Festival de Cannes

A police film, adapted from a novel, it comes with a well-constructed action plot where a team of special squad police officers have to get a child murderer and abuser from A to B. It takes place in Japan and was filmed in Taiwan.

 

With the dramatic music and sound effects, it feels more like a wild and spectacular video game pitching values of personal commitment and honour against corruption and revenge, than it does a film. 

As exciting as it is, Shield of Straw, or Wara No Tate is far from being a game.

Cannes 2013

The audience is challenged from the beginning, with Takeshi Miike in his 18th film, asking them think about, among other things, the death penalty, a subject that is currently being hotly debated in Japan, a country where it is still legal.

While the grandfather of the criminal’s victim wants the clearly deranged villain dead at any cost, several policemen put their lives on the line to ensure he goes on trial.

Takeshi Miike says he’s happy to have his film in the selection for the Palm, but doesn’t expect to win. He says he’s content to follow in the footsteps of Shohei Imamura, who won his first of two Golden Palms for his Ballad of Narayama 30 years ago, in another way.

“What I learned from Imamura is that if you concentrate on what you have available when you are making your film, the originality will come out naturally. Sometimes or even often, film makers try to be different from other film makers, but they don’t need to try, “ Miike says.

And in an original way, Takeshi Miike, takes a look police officers as human beings, which is a recurrent theme here (Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly in the Director’s Fortnight, for example), and at why, just as human feelings are, so is a properly functioning justice system is fundamental to society.

Also screening on Monday, Omar, a Palestinian film, by Hany Abu Assad, about a young Palestinian baker who falls in love and takes on the Israeli army, all in the same time, with help in the latter and hindrance in the former, by his two friends. It’s in the Un Certain Regard section. That one was greeted with unequivocal applause.

 

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