NORWEGIAN WOOD (Dir. Tran Anh Hung, 2010, Japan) – Chaplinesque Connections

I’m not sure if it is the writer Haruki Murakami or director Tran Anh Hung responsible for the cinematic allusion to Chaplin’s 1936 masterpiece Modern Times in which the little Tramp inadvertently takes up the cause of the proletariat by picking up a flag which falls off the back of a vehicle. It probably isn’t deliberate on the part of both artists and in many ways the intransigence of Toru Watanabe in the sequence from Norwegian Wood offers a stark comparison to the animated pantomime of the little Tramp. Additionally, Toru’s distance from the political turmoil of the Sixties might suggest disaffection but in both instances they are two people who could easily be swept up in the throes of historical change and transform into agents of political change. What interests me about the two sequences which are separated by such a period of time is the way in which film makers today unconsciously recreate images from the memories of cinematic past, refashioning them without knowing into a ghostly present.

1). Modern Times (1936, Dir. Charlie Chaplin) – The Leader

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2). Norwegian Wood (Dir. Tran Anh Hung, 2010) – The Beatnik

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