Harvard Film Archive: Shuji Terayama

  • 13 Nov 2017
  • 7:00 PM
  • Harvard Film Archive, 24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138


Monday, November 13, 2017 at 7:00PM

     Harvard Film Archive, 24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets
(Sho o suteyo machi e deyou)

Combining raw discomfort and unexpected beauty, Terayama’s first feature follows socioeconomically marginalized Eimei, who rages against conservative, “efficient,” and unjust systems that bar him from following his dreams. The subsequent rallies read as documents of an anarchist moment in Japanese history—seen through poetically placed colored gels and jaunty camera angles with graffitied literary references littering the streets. Meanwhile, if Eimei’s prospects seem bleak, those for women are worse. Terayama closes in on the catastrophic gulf between male projections of female experience and women’s actual experience through sexualized and violent images—which may or may not operate by the same logic they critique. 

Opening with darkness and a whirring that could be either a camera or a projector, the film inserts us between its production and its consumption. Eimei confronts us in this darkness: “What the hell are you doing?” Later, he asks for the studio lights to be switched on. Images of the cast without costume scroll instead of credits. Challenging audience passivity through such reflexivity, Terayama relates the film to its book and theatrical versions, and his concurrent experiments in expanded cinema. Throw Away Your Books ends with Eimei bidding farewell to film—“Sayonara eiga!”—but Terayama’s images stay with us.

Directed by Shuji Terayama. With Hideaki Sasaki, Masahiro Saito, Yukiko Kobayashi
Japan 1971, 35mm, color & b/w, 137 min. Japanese with English subtitles


Curated by Go Hirasawa and Julian Ross with Haden Guest.

Film descriptions by Haden Guest and Becca Voelcker.

Presented in partnership with Anthology Film Archives; National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and the George Eastman Museum, with the generous support of the Kinoshita Group. Special thanks: Theodore C. Bestor and Stacie Matsumoto—Reischauer Institute, Harvard; Hisashi Okajima, Akira Tochigi and Chizuru Usui—National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; the Japan Foundation; Jed Rapfogel—Anthology Film Archives; Julian Ross; Go Hirasawa.


Tickets go on sale 45 minutes prior to show time. The HFA does not do advance ticket sales.

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