Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Between Tengoku to Jigoku
Aside from spending my Saturday at Pacific Media Expo, which was quite fun for the most part, I partook another viewing of the then-underappreciated Kurosawa favorite, High and Low, which helped me formulate more thoughts concerning the current state of affairs. And as thousands continue to speak out against criminality in the corporate and governmental worlds, it rang a particularly deep chord within me this time around, especially in regards to how the film portrays nearly self-made shoe powerhouse , Kingo Gondo's shifty, negligent board members, as well as his creditors who plot to wring control, and continue to abuse their positions for greater shares of wealth. Kidnapping plot aside, which seemed more a desperate act than anything truly diabolical, it is the action of those already on the "inside" that promote an unhealthy influence upon a society's only recently begun restoration. And while the morality of the film wavers, even within the ivory walls of Gondo's home, it is easily seen as a reaction to loss of status for not only him, but his wife and family. But when everything has transpired, it remains clear that his demeanor is that of a survivor, and not of those so easily pushed to the abyss that they themselves commit crimes beyond the redeemable.
I love how the film so easily could have portrayed the hardened businessman as a model from a simpler time, with a clean rep, and white-tinted actions, but it plays on our ability to empathize with the man as he grapples with negotiating with a kidnapper. Streaks of grey are all over the place, the film lives up to the title, and we are presented with an impeccably staged, refreshingly honest look at the lives of those in places of power, without allowing the compass to lean too hard to one direction.
But when I watch the online chatter via Twitter, news video, and read the testimonies, one cannot help but feel that many of those like the ones surrounding Mr. Gondo throughout his central crisis have been on the winning team for far too long, with a public at long last ready to hold them accountable. But the largest tragedy when considering the film, is the role of the police, public servants dogged in the pursuit of not only the perpetrator, but some semblance of truth for those willing to sacrifice so much for others. Not being able to see this reflected on the streets of a number of our major cities is enough to not only sadden me, but seek to further damage the very idea of democracy and social justice.
And when the film finally takes us to hell, it serves as a reminder of how much worse the human heart can be when it feels suppressed and impotent. It is something many in the current movement are fighting to rise beyond. Further sending home that we are all capable of so much more. Now if only more in the towers were to follow suit.