“The Caterpillar” (Taro) – essence of war
Early birds. Will we be shocked? Sex, nudity, brutality, vengeance. What shall it be dear?
Caterpillar is from a story by Japanese Mystery writer, Edogawa Rampo (Hirai Tarō ) – his pen name a takeoff on one of his favorite role models, Edgar Allen Poe.
The film is set in rural Japan where thatched roofs and rice paddies belie the fact that Japan is fighting a brutal war on two fronts, one in China, and another against the United States.
In fact the tatami mats and idealized setting would seem to be harmless: all wood, and paper, and quiet. But soon enough the film becomes the mother of all paper cuts. The tawny bamboo, the village huts, and the imperial image of Japan at war, are all splattered with blood and offal administered by Shinobu Terajima as the wife of hopelessly crippled Lt. Kyuzo. The deterioration of the abused and obedient wife into a frightening and erratic shell of herself is fascinating.
Drawn in broad, simple strokes, The Caterpiller emerges like a terror from a mirror in the countryside and global war squeezes the illusions out of everyone there.
Viewed at the Freer Museum, Washington DC