Directed by Kiju Yoshida
COUP D’ETAT, aka Martial Law, is another freestyle biopic by director Kiju Yoshida. This time, Yoshida’s focus is Ikki Kita (1883-1937), whose ideas on state socialism inspired the failed military coup, the February 26 Incident in 1936. The film depicts Kita’s political but rather sensual relationship with young and pure military officers. The late Rentaro Mikuni (1923-2013) gives a ghastly performance as Kita, who was eventually executed in 1937 because of his supposed involvement in the failed coup.
Yoshida claims, “In terms of power and authority, the right wing and the left wing, the Socialist Revolution and the Emperor system have lots in common. They are parallel existences. With this film that follows Eros + Masscre (1969) and Heroic Purgatory (1970), I have completed a trilogy about contemporary Japan.”
Note that Yoshida does not say he made a historical trilogy. For Yoshida, the past is not over yet. The modern history of Japan still haunts us even in the twenty-first century. Mariko Okada, Yoshida’s muse, is credited as a producer of this film. –Daisuke Miyao
Co-presented by the Museum of Photographic Arts