Feature Four Frames

Youth in crisis: Akihiko Shiota’s Harmful Insect

White feathers falling from the ceiling like snowflakes, the camera revealing a heap of them on the furniture and, after a lateral movement, a woman who starts cutting her wrist with a small knife – this is the opening sequence of Harmful Insect (Gaichu, Japan, 2002). Filmed in total silence, the sequence combines lyricism and […]


Social criticism and the inner journey in Battle Royale

In one of the first sequences of Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale (Batoru rowaiaru, 2000), a group of boisterous pupils on a bus trip to the countryside arrive at a tunnel entrance: an appropriate place to anticipate the horror which awaits them when they emerge from the darkness at the other end. Stunned by gas, they […]