by Chris MaGee
It was just last month that The Shinsedai Cinema Festival premiered Masahide Ichii's powerful drama "Naked of Defenses" here in Canada. Probably my favorite film of 2009 it tells the story of a love/ hate friendship between two women, one eight months pregnant, the other suffering the emotional trauma of having had a miscarriage. "Naked of Defenses" deservedly won the top prize at the 2008 Pia Film Festival for this simple but sublime storyline which... SPOILERS AHEAD... climaxes with actress Sanae Konno, wife of director Ichii, actually giving birth to their son on camera. When I first saw the film in Frankfurt at Nippon Connection '09 I was so swept up in the emotion of the scene that it took me a few minutes to realize what was actually going on, but yes, this is probably the most public baby birthing video ever. It works very well, but censors in Japan have had a hard time coming to terms with the pubic hair, blood and general messiness of the whole scene.
Now CinemaToday.jp is reporting that for its limited theatrical release Eirin, the Japanese motion picture rating board, has slapped the film with a R18+, the highest rating possible in the country. That means no one under 18-years of age can get into see "Naked of Defenses" as this rating applies to films that "contain adult themes, detailed violence, explicit sex, sexual violence, pornographic content, hentai, and/or drug use". This is the same rating given to films like "Ichi the Killer", "Baise-moi" and "Caligula". We're not talking torture or orgies here... This is childbirth, people! You know? Where we all came from?
For those of you out there who have seen "Naked of Defenses" you'll know just how appropriate this final scene is to the storyline, and for all of you who have not seen the wonderful film yet don't let this rating fool you - this is one of the most heartfelt and touching films you will ever see, real birth scene or no.