Genre: drama, literature
               Japan, ship, suicide, communism, Berlinale 2010, Sailor

labor camp on the high seas

  A floating cannery in Japanese waters. Men’s sweat and toil on the assembly line sort, grind and pack pink shrimp into small golden cans. The suffering has them written on their faces, they are constantly harassed and beaten by their supervisors. It really does not know how the men came to the ship and why they are exposed to this heavy work. But the fact that they do so rather unwillingly, and dream of freedom and wealth is evident. After all those humiliations, beatings and bloodshed, there is finally a revolt.

Sabu, who has been a regular guest at the Berlinale last with Shisso (2006) in the Panorama and The Blessing Bell (2002) in the Forum, has Kanikōsen with a dark, albeit an ironic parable about the exploitation of the poor and the weak shot in neo-liberalism. The film is based on the novel by Takiji Kobayashi, published in 1929, is still considered one of the standard works of proletarian literature. There are the rich (a few), with the labor of the poor (many), and their sweat will make a profit. The poor have nothing of it, the rich everything.

Kanikōsen is a depressing film. The camera rarely leaves the ship’s interior, the narrowness and darkness, which combine into a claustrophobic chamber piece. But it would be no real Sabu film, when the Japanese director who is the real name of Hiroyuki Tanaka, would not he mixed a good dose of absurd humor. The mad scene and turned the collective suicide – a reference to hara-kiri, the ritual suicide bungle – thoroughly the men. Although the film has a life-affirming, hopeful outcome, is not an easy diet Kanikōsen Sabu fans will get their money, friends of the silent Japanese film rather less.

(Katrin Knauth)

Title: Kanikōsen Country of production: Japan Year of production: 2009 Length: 109 (Min)

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