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An Attempt to Describe the Measure of a Man

Shūji Terayama
Issun-bōshi wo kijutsu suru kokoromi
Japan 1977 / 19’
The Eraser The Reading Machine

Issun-bōshi (literally the one-inch boy) is a character from the world of Japanese folklore, the equivalent of Tom Thumb. At the end of the legend, he grows to average height and lives happily ever after until the end of his days. The eponymous Issun-bōshi in Terayama’s film ties up a naked woman out of a desire to possess her. Will his story end just as happily?

Nikodem Karolak

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 Ikeda
music J.A. Seazer
cast Toshihiko Hino, Momo Yaguchi, Kō Shinozaki
producer Eiko Kujō, Akinori Konishi
production Terayama World
sales Terayama World
language Japanese
colouration colour