EXTREME PRIVATE EROS: LOVE SONG 1974 (Kazuo Hara, 1974)

Documentarian Kazuo Hara and Miyuki Takeda, his child’s mother, broke up in 1972. Takeda moved from Tokyo to Okinawa, leaving Hara with unresolved feelings that he hoped making a film about her would resolve. With her permission, therefore, he stayed with her and her new lover, Sugako.
     Miyuki proves a fascinating subject. A feminist and her own person, she opposes the male bias of Japanese culture and society. Her iconoclasm shows a pioneer proceeding on her own, without the support of like-minded souls, much less an organized group.
     Okinawans are looked down upon by mainlanders; they’re among the “untouchables” of Japanese society. Miyuki exults: “I am pregnant. I’m having it. I’m having an Okinawan baby.” Miyuki exemplifies the very prejudice she opposes; in her stance we see both the premise of the prejudice and her opposition. Hara is thus able to present a countercultural figure—an unmarried, promiscuous bisexual Japanese woman—that nonetheless reveals the mainstream culture. Moreover, the father of the fetus is a black U.S. soldier—this, in a nation that is obsessed with notions of racial purity and ethnic superiority.
     Miyuki leaves Sugako, returning to Tokyo. Before settling in a woman’s commune, she delivers her own baby, with Hara, at her suggestion, filming it in its entirety, his 16mm camera pointed at her vagina. Blurred focus (for which he apologizes) provides an index of Hara’s anxiety and concern. Afterwards, on the phone with her mother, Miyuki notes that her son, at her side during the birth, did not cry. We know he did. Is Miyuki lying, misremembering? Perhaps, for her, the child’s cries were displaced to the daughter being born, testifying to the holistic nature of her, their mother’s, existence.
     Gokushiteki erosu: Renka 1974 warmly embraces all children.

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