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Farewell to the Ark

Shūji Terayama
Saraba hakobune
Japan 1984 / 127’
Fruits of Passion Terayama: Performance

A loose adaptation of Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. The plot of Farewell to the Ark focuses on the lives of Sutekichi and Sue, two cousins in love with one another who live in isolation and face the ridicule of the other villagers. The main plot is accompanied by side stories—written by Terayama himself—that take the form of parables, including about hunting for a beautiful phantom woman, gold seekers and people who send letters into the abyss of the world of the dead. Terayama has said that his film was not meant to be a faithful adaptation but rather a means of citing the writer and adding a new chapter to his novel. Both works, however, retain the mosaic-like structure that is characteristic of magic realism, in which various plans for events are highlighted, with a simultaneous lack of generalizations and an accumulation of details. And although Terayama’s film accentuates feelings rather than words, its protagonists—the tribes doomed to a hundred years of solitude—are also engulfed in the unspeakable fear of losing their shared ark.

Nikodem Karolak


Sitges Fantasy Film Festival 1985 - Best Director, Cinematography; Awards of the Japanese Academy 1985 - Best Actor; Blue Ribbon Awards 1985 - Best Actor

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, Rio Kishida
cinematography Tatsuo Suzuki
editing Sachiko Yamaji
music J.A. Seazer
cast Tsutomu Yamazaki, Mayumi Ogawa, Yoshio Harada, Yōko Takahashi
producer Kujō Eiko
production Art Theatre Guild (ATG)
sales Toho
language Japanese
colouration colour