A dazzling, dizzying descent into black and white madness, Branded to Kill is one of the most stylish and well-loved Japanese films ever made, but it took a while to find its audience.
The appreciation certainly didn’t start inside Nikkatsu, the studio that produced the film. Following completion, Branded to Kill was screened for the studio heads, many of who were left very confused, and unable to unravel the film’s befuddling plot. They were reportedly angered by Suzuki’s seeming disregard for narrative sense, and so he was promptly fired from the studio. Suzuki has sadly made relatively few films since, although his most recent film, 2005’s Princess Raccoon, really was something special.
I must have seen Branded to Kill around a dozen times now and while I do feel like I know what’s going on in the plot, I’m still not convinced I fully appreciate every aspect of the narrative. Even still, this has never seemed like an issue. Each time, I’ve just been utterly lost in Suzuki’s creation, wrapped up in Branded to Kill‘s bleak, monochromatic but oddly cool world, crashing back into colour and reality only after the film’s stark finale and closing credits. Continue reading “Branded to Kill and Trapped in Lust”