Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Doc highlights Shuji Terayama collaborator and adopted brother Henrikku Morisaki

by Chris MaGee

Avant-garde filmmaker and playwright Shuji Terayama wouldn't have been able to share his astounding (and sometimes disturbing) imagination with all of us if it hadn't have been for his experimental theatre troupe Tenjo Sajiki. Terayama formed the troupe in 1967 and its members would star in his stage productions and films like "Emperor Tomato Ketchup", "Throw Away Your Books and Run into the Streets", and "Pastoral: To Die in the Country" right up until Teryama's death in 1983. That being said Tenjo Sajiki wouldn't have been the vehicle for Terayama's imagination had it not been for Henrikku Morisaki.

Morisaki was part of Tenjo Sajiki from the very beginning, working as a production designer, graphic designer, sound engineer, wrangler and all around go to guy for the troupe's stage plays and their guerrilla-style street performances. He would also occasionally serve as Terayama's assistant director and even starred in his 1974 short film "Laura" during which Morisaki would enter the movie itself through a slit in the screen where he was abused by its female stars and then literally thrown out of the film naked. So close and essential was Morisaki's relationship with Terayama that after the director's death in '83 his mother adopted Morisaki as her son, thus making him Terayama's younger brother.

This creative partnership, and baffling familial tie, is explored in a documentary directed by Atsushi Ishikawa that opened during October of last year at Tokyo's Image Forum Theatre. Titled "Henrikku: Terayama Shûji no otôto (Henrikku: Shuji Terayama's Younger Brother)" Ishikawa speaks not only with the now 61-year-old Morisaki, but members of Tenjo Sajiki as well, in order to bring those heady days of creativity and controversy back to life.

Check out the official website for "Henrikku: Terayama Shûji no otôto" here as well as reading this marvelous interview with Henrikku Morisaki conducted in 2008 by the folks at Eiga GoGo. Then make sure to watch the trailer for the documentary (which includes segments from "Laura") below. Thanks to Wildgrounds (via Facebook ) for this story.

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