Published Nov 06, 2012Most active as a director in the late '60s and early '70s, before joining the Japanese Red Army and heading off to Lebanon, Masao Adachi describes himself as a Surrealist. Though politically motivated by Trotskyism and having a library of oblique films demonstrating distain for bourgeois society, he readily refutes categorization, pointing out the distinctions between himself and other self-imposed revolutionaries, praising his work and experience as a refusal to accept the banality of the quotidian.
In such, French academic Philippe Grandieux' deliberately oblique documentary of sorts, It May Be that Beauty has Strengthened Our Resolve , attempts to mirror the ideology of its subject through style, occasionally channeling Tarkovskiy and Adachi himself while reiterating the concept of all film as interconnected and fluid. The result is many protracted scenes of nature, swing sets and even a highway driving sequence similar to that in Solaris, only without the acid-induces stylizations.
These images—often shot without proper lighting or focus to exaggerate the sensation of the viewing experience; a concept paramount to Adachi's personal doctrine—are grounded, in part, by voiceover and interview confessionals from the subject. He discusses lying as mode of avoiding and repressing the self we wish to deny, positing that freedom from embarrassment and shame may come from pure openness, which is, in turn, what he hopes to generate through the medium of film.
In assessing the aims of surrealist, sensation-based filmmaking, he's careful to note that he isn't seeking to change or revolutionize the medium specifically—again distinguishing himself from others (and categorization) like Jean-Luc Godard—rather he's noting that ideas and concepts are tied in with sensations, even though art often mirrors the former.
Because the subject is preoccupied with theory over facts, Adachi's deportation from Lebanon and arrest for passport violations isn't discussed. Instead, Grandieux uses the style and structure suggested by the subject, to a debatable degree of success, making inaccessible and contemplative a work that is ostensibly a document of ego defense.
It May Be that Beauty has Strengthened Our Resolve screens on Wednesday, November 7th at 7pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. (Epileptic Films)