Crazed Fruit

Sounds Like Teen Spirit

While BREATHLESS created a veritable cinematic tsunami in France, Japan was experiencing its own new wave with the taiyozoku (or Sun Tribe) movement. As David Desser explains in his book, Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave Cinema, “Sun Tribe” describes “Japanese youth who feel themselves cut off from their past yet part of a new, mythic culture, the culture of youth.” Arguably the most famous of the Sun Tribe trio of films was CRAZED FRUIT, which, together with SEASON OF THE SUN and PUNISHMENT ROOM (all released in 1956 and based on novels by Shintaro Ishihara), brought out a fear among Japanese adults of “uninhibited teenage sex combined with social alienation.”

Directed by Kô Nakahira, the film tells the story of two brothers competing for the amorous favors of a young married woman (Mie Kitihara), among a group of nihilistic youths during a seaside summer of gambling, boating and drinking. The film was critically savaged for its shocking portrayal of the postwar sexual revolution among Japan’s young and privileged. Of the film’s shocking finale, director Nagisa Oshima said that “in the sound of the girl’s skirt being ripped and the hum of the motorboat slashing through the older brother, sensitive people could hear the wails of a seagull heralding a new age in Japanese cinema.” Tôru Takemitsu’s score (co-credited with Masaru Satô) used jazz to give musical voice to a raw, sexual longing that had not been heard in Japanese film music.

Crazed Fruit poster

Best known in this country for films such as WOMAN IN THE DUNES, RAN and BLACK RAIN, Takemitsu (1930-1996) was the preeminent Japanese composer of the postwar era, influenced by everyone from Debussy to Duke Ellington. In addition to an astonishing 93 film scores, he wrote hundreds of concert works, a detective novel, and critical works on music, film, and literature.

Fans familiar with Takemitsu’s later scores may be surprised by his music for CRAZED FRUIT. In the DVD commentary, Japanese film scholar Donald Richie points out the score’s “sensuous, kitschy melodic cadences” set to the Polynesian strains of Hawaiian steel guitar and ukelele.

Takemitsu considered CRAZED FRUIT one of his finest accomplishments, and it is a startling debut feature film debut for the 26-year-old composer.

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