Japanese poet and filmmaker, Fukuma Kenji, visited New York City for a screening of his recent film, A Fairy Tale. The film is a blend of cinematographic and literary poetry.
The movie tells the coming of age story of the heroine, Sasaki Yuki. In the story, Yuki interacts with a number of imaginary characters. These characters: a poet, a maid, and a professional, illustrate her relations to society as she yearns to discover her unique self. The female characters are balanced with a number of male figures who leave her unfulfilled. They impress her with the expectations of relationships, but not with a sense of herself.
The ennui is heightened with the film’s imagery. As Yuki frequents the elevated monorail, placated by the mystical vision of the impossibly distant mountains, she is confronted with the angular redundancies of urban development. With a poignant sense of her innocence and the steely-eyed determination of her resolve, Yuki stares into the indifferent world to assert her existence. Mr. Fukuma use of non-professional actors for most of the casting gives a powerful impression of the character’s courageous uncertainty. The part of Yuki is played exceptionally well by one of Mr. Fukuma’s former students, Kohara Saori.
The film’s atmosphere is chilled with the “winter lighting” as Mr. Fukuma describes. The exclusive use of natural and incidental light creates a detached tone while emphasizing the concrete reality of the modern world, the mechanical circuitry of society and the tender, yet resilient, nature of human.
Eventually Yuki confronts herself directly. This confrontation is initiated through her severed relation with one of the young men. Her interaction with herself illustrates various aspects of play, competition, acceptance and responsibility. Through this interaction, she realizes that the creed she sought to establish for herself and the conviction she hoped to develop through this creed, is a belief in herself.
With this discovery, she relocates to Tokyo realizing herself as an anonymous figure amongst 14 million others, all enduring similar ordeals through their own personal struggles. The opening lines of the film resound with the implication that we are all born orphans in the mystery of our existence. Through her awakening in the stark reality of life in society, Yuki realizes and accepts that to live in the world, she must first learn to live with herself.
A Fairy Tale is in Japanese with English subtitles. The showing was at the Einstein Auditorium in the NYU Steinhardt Building on November 16.
Garrett Buhl Robinson is a poet and novelist. His website is garrrettrobinson.us.