|Vintage Pulp||Oct 31 2011|
The Japanese crime drama Hadaka no Jukyu-sai, aka Live Today, Die Tomorrow, is the tale of an 18-year old country boy named Michio who is relocated to Tokyo for a work program and quickly rebels against the authoritarians around him. After going off the reservation he drifts into petty crime, which in turn leads to a shooting spree during which he murders several people. The movie seems to be critical of both Japanese city life and American influence (Michio acquires the gun by stealing it from an American), and we found it to be an interesting and engrossing fable. Later, we realized that the film was probably inspired by the real-life story of Norio Nagayama, a 19-year old who in 1969 shot four people dead with a gun he acquired from a U.S. military base. He was caught, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. He had been in jail for about eighteen months when Hadaka no Jukyu-sai hit cinemas. No word on whether he saw it, but for some reason Nagayama was inspired to write, and by 1971 he was being published. He eventually wrote six books (with the profits going to compensate his victims’ families), and garnered critical acclaim as well as winning the New Japan Literary Award in 1984. After years of appeals and stays, Nagayama was executed in August 1997 and his ashes scattered in the sea. The movie he inspired is worth a look if you can find it anywhere, and the poster art is, well, killer. Hadaka no Jukyu-sai premiered in Japan today in 1970.