Monday, December 28, 2009

Tetsuo

Shinya Tsukamoto's 1989 film Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a brilliant, fast-paced mindfuck of a Japanese cyberpunk love story. It brings a rather trite story of boy meets girl into a post-apocalyptic world of sex, violence, and machinery. Violent robotic bully ramming, power-drill penises, an amazing score of Skinny Puppy/Laibach/Jim Thirwell-esque menace by Chu Ishikawa solidify Tetsuo as absolutely genre-defining and aesthetically thorough. This rare CD compiles the best of Ishikawa's work from the original and the less captivating sequel Tetsuo II: Body Hammer. Essential.

15 comments:

TMM said...

Unbelievable!!!!!!!!!! You have this on Vinyl....Damn!!!!!!!!

Aesop.....what is your take on Skinny Puppy anyway??....up to Last Rights of course....I know you dig E.N. and Laibach

Monika Uchiyama said...

awesome! this is one of my favorite movies, even dressed up as the characters for halloween this year, drill cock and all (see blog).
thanks for this!!

Chairmaker said...

Nice post, Tetsuo is indeed a brilliant movie. I haven't seen his most recent effort, but am definitely curious.

MSOTBG said...

Very cool dude, thanks for making this available

ido said...

Oh fuck, you have a good one here.

Originally picked this CD up in Japan about nine years ago. Am still looking for the complete TETSUO soundtrack disc. Released by ADISC records in Japan in 1992. I've only seen it on the internet but know that it is out there somewhere.

First watched this film when I was about sixteen years old. Completely ripped open my mind. I've seen it countless times since then and have purchased it on both vhs and dvd. Probably my favorite film right along with Bergman's "The Seventh Seal."

TETSUO's visual aesthetic is often classified as cyper-punk. While this does makes sense on many I think Tsukamoto is dealing more with the transformative effects of self-mutilation/augmentation than any "Bladerunner" inspired "man-meets-machine" aesthetic. His later film TOKYO FIST deals with similar themes, but without the metal. I've always thought of Tsukamoto's early work as "Body Horror": the internal frustrations and desires of the psyche being played out on the canvas of the human body, with the scraps of metal and garbage that define our industrial/modern existence as the paint and brushes.

The rusted scrap metal and industrial grime of Tokyo is one of the key characters in this film. The humidity, sweat, and claustrophobic stifle of the lead couple's apartment is the domestic equivalent to what we see in the streets and rotting factories. This "rust" is the explanation given for the main character's transformation from salaryman to a clanking machine of perversion. But even before his transformation, he has already committed a horrible crime. The monster that we see was already there.

Based on this, I see TESTUO at its most basic components as a revenge story. A seemingly random event that the couple hopes to forget comes back to haunt them in the worst possible way. Human contact is either disconnected or hyper-violent in the rusting, isolated environment of this film. Therefore the "isolated" incident that sets the plot into motion functions well in defining the internal/external conflict that radiates throughout Tsukamoto's film.

If you watch the film the above will make more sense.

In my own personal opinion, Tsukamoto is the greatest living director working today. I have all of his films and urge anyone reading this to check out more of his work. If you enjoyed TESTUO please seek out BULLET BALLET. The subtitles for his early films (especially Manga's horrible subtitling of TOKYO FIST) are often incorrect, so please bear that in mind.

The music of TESTUO blew me away when I first heard it. This film utilizes music better than almost any other I've seen, even Ishii Sogo and Bergman's work. Ishikawa was originally a member of the industrial group ZEITLICH VERGELTER before beginning his role as Tsukamoto's composer (he has done the music for almost all the man's films). Ishikawa also fronted the "metal percussion" industrial band DER EISENROST, who were active in the early-mid '90s. I have heard of an incredible expensive Ishikawa boxset that I would kill kill kill to get my hands on.

Moz said...

We both posted Tetsuo related stuff at the same time, WEIRD!

Aesop said...

Great minds etc.

Aesop said...

TMM, love Laibach, Skinny Puppy, and EN. EN is the one band I can think of that releases consistently great records every year.

Anonymous said...

The dvd comes with a sountrack CD,most likely this one.Tetsuo 2-Body Hammer kinda sucked,but that new Tetsuo-Bullet Man flick should be worth checking into.Last film I saw by Shinya T(?) was a real clausterphobic flick called HAZE,check it out if you can find it.Mike

Andrew said...

Aesop, do you know Dissecting Table?! They're a japanese industrial band from the late 80's, very EN-post-SPK type stuff, with death metal esque vocals. If you've never heard it I think it'll blow your mind. Everytime I listen to DT it reminds me of Tetsuo. Here's a link to download their first album (not my blog):
http://heavyelectronics.wordpress.com/2009/11/07/dissecting-table-ultra-point-of-intersection-exist/

Keep up the good work man, been an avid follower since the first time I stumbled over here. Spent about 4 hours the first day going through the archives! Cheers!

Aesop said...

Thanks, Andrew. I have long heard the name of Dissecting Table but never checked out their work.

jabladav said...

ido. thank you for the post. I am a movie poser and would love to tap the knowledge of you and aseop. Maybe I just need to buy one of you a dvd recorder and a spool and lay the knowledge.

Aseop- thank you as always.

jabladav said...

crankinstien- I have your spaceboy 7" release that you are looking for.

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

I saw this film in '94 and it both confused me and creeped me out. Your post reminded me I need to track down a copy and watch it again.

beerdiablo said...

Lovely. I remember you could rent Tetsuo at Blockbuster in the early-mid 90's when they were at the height of censoring/keeping "filth" out of their stores.