Emperor Tomato Ketchup

1971 blockbuster

Rating: no rating

Plot: In a land governed by children, kids run around abusing adults and drawing X's over things.

The only thing I really knew about this movie is that the band Stereolab grabbed its title for one of their album titles. I'm not sure what it's about. It's a frenzy of worn black 'n' white shock images, a lot involving children doing things they're not supposed to be doing. I'm sure director Shuji Terayama is saying something here, but it's going to be next to impossible for most viewers to see it through some really shocking visuals. The imagery invited Holocaust comparisons and thoughts about censorship and totalitarian governments, but none of it was cohesive enough to make a point that a dumb guy like me could fully grasp. No, I'm the type of viewer who's content in being entertained by a scene of a little person emerging from a hole while wearing an army helmet and what appears to be a diaper, running to another hole where he extracts a chicken that he takes an ax to, an act accompanied by a too-loud screech and some scattered applause. There's no real dialogue, but there's some words thrown in (found sound or stock sounds, I assume), none of it that I could understand because I don't speak whatever language it's in. There are also some words that appeared in white on the screen that I wouldn't be able to read even if I could read German. The music is nice if not all over the place. Like many foreign avant-garde productions, I'm missing way too much context to fully appreciate this or even understand it. This might have loads of interesting ideas but it's distracted by its own imagery.

Note: There's a 70-something minute version of this and a much shorter 20-something minute version that I'm guessing only shows the highlights. Like a Michael Bay movie with just the explosions maybe.

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