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Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets

Shūji Terayama
Sho o suteyo machi e deyō
Japan 1971 / 137’
The Cage Laura

Terayama’s full-length debut, filmed at a time of student protests and unrest. The story of Eimei, a young boy growing up in a dysfunctional family who is trying to escape the slums of Tokyo. His fate is intertwined with images from the lives of hippies, street actors, musicians and liberated youth burning American flags, rebelling against the political order and indulging in pot and sex. The film is an example of media-crossing, i.e., a marriage of many different genres: a video clip, a musical film, a poem, a documentary and a theatrical street performance without a consistent, linear plot. “We have to learn to read the streets,” says Terayama, calling for revolution through art, using the power of imagination, in a country that was trapped like a lizard in a Coke can.

Nikodem Karolak


San Remo IFF 1971 – Grand Prix

Shūji Terayama

(1935-1983), one of the most prominent avant-garde reformers of Japanese cinema and theater. He became an unrivaled intellectual, nonconformist and unyielding fanatic, as well as an artist who was deemed scandalous and subversive, an enfant terrible, who managed to revise his native tradition. Famous internationally primarily as the founder of the legendary alternative Tenjō Sajiki theater, he directed a series of films with strong autobiographical themes, including a counter-cultural manifesto based on the collage method Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets, or Death in the Country, which critics compared and contrasted to Federico Fellini's  Eight and a Half, and near the end of his life to create his own version of Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in Farewell to the Ark, where Macondo culture permeates Japanese myths and beliefs. As a total artist, Terayama not only mixed different genres and conventions, but combined the cinema with theater, destroying the "fourth wall" between the viewer and the artist.

Selected filmography

1971 Rzućmy książki, wyjdźmy na ulice! / Sho o suteyo machi e deyō / Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets

1974 Wiejska ciuciubabka / Den'en ni shisu / Pastoral: To Die in the Country (aka Pastoral Hide and Seek)

1977 Bokser / Bokusā / Boxer

1981 Owoce namiętności / Shanhai Ijin Shōkan / Fruits of Passion

1984 Żegnaj, Arko! / Saraba hakobune / Farewell to the Ark

Cast & Crew

director Shūji Terayama
screenplay Shūji Terayama
cinematography Masayoshi Sukita
editing Keiichi Uraoka
music J.A. Seazer, Ichirō Araki, Kuni Kawachi, Itsuro Shimoda
cast Eimei Sasaki, Masahiro Saitō, Yukiko Kobayashi, Keiko Niitaka,
producer Eiko Kujō
production Art Theatre Guild (ATG), Jinriki Hikōki Sha
sales Toho
language Japanese
colouration colour