The Outcast (Hakai)

Also released under the titles The Sin and Broken Commandments, Kon Ichikawa's Hakai is an anguished, and revealing, film about the little-known caste system in Japan, in which an “Outcast” is one whose ancestors include butchers, leather craftsmen, dancers and other “lowly” figures. The story is of a young teacher in a small mountain community who is torn between his dying father's commandment, “Hide your identity as an Outcast,” and his sense of the injustice of the system. Slowly and painfully his allegiance is drawn away from his father towards another figure of respect, a well-known writer who has “come out” as an Outcast, and the young man makes the decision which forces him to leave his community. Ichikawa's breathtaking compositions move from dark, bleak imagery to snow-covered mountains and forests as the story unfolds.
A controversial filmmaker in his own country, Ichikawa has been called by Shinoda “the most influential in pointing out (technical) directions for the avant-garde of my generation,” and by Oshima “just an illustrator” (quoted in Bock, “Japanese Film Directors”). Though Hakai was well received, Ichikawa was encouraged by the studio, after making this dark and frank drama, to make happy films. Taking the assignment to heart, he made what he called his “Disney” films, both outrageous and enchanting.

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