Emperor Tomato Ketchup (film)

Emperor Tomato Ketchup (トマトケチャップ皇帝, Tomato Kechappu Kōtei) is a Japanese short experimental film made by Shūji Terayama in 1970. A 27-minute cut was released in 1971. A "director's cut" of sorts, attempting to recreate the film as originally made, was released as a 75-minute feature in 1996, thirteen years after Terayama's death.[1][2]

Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Film poster for 1996 re-release
Revised HepburnTomato Kechappu Kōtei
Directed byShūji Terayama
Written byShūji Terayama
Produced byArt Theatre Guild
StarringKeiko Niitaka (新高恵子)
Salvador Tari (サルバドール・タリ)
Distributed byDaguerreo Press
Release dates
  • 1971 (1971)
  • January 27, 1996 (1996-01-27)
Running time
75 min (1970)
27 min (1971)
75 min (1996)

A twelve-minute abridgement of the film, Rock Paper Scissors War (ジャンケン戦争, Jan-ken-sensō), was also released in 1971.[3]

Plot edit

Set in an indeterminate future in which children have overthrown adults and established their own empire, the film does not have a central narrative or identifiable character roles. Rather it depicts a series of graphic tableaux in which children (played onscreen by actual children) engage in cruel and abusive acts against the adults under their dominion. These include scenes of child soldiers arresting, enslaving, executing, and raping helpless victims, often held at gunpoint.

A constitution is read aloud, establishing the basic laws of the empire and the supremacy of children over adults. The title of "Emperor Tomato Ketchup" is derived from the stipulated favorite food of children enshrined in the constitution. The titular boy emperor lazily lords over his parents and shows disinterest in the young girl who is his designated concubine. He later sexually assaults a glamorous woman, suckling on her breasts and placing his head between her thighs.

The violent overthrow of the adult government is understood by the children in the film as akin to rock paper scissors (じゃん・けん・ポン, jan-ken-pon).[4]

The film includes scenes of animal abuse, drag play, fascism, Nazism, racism, rape, the Ku Klux Klan, nudity, and sexual fetishism as well as pantomimed erotic acts involving both children and adults.[5]

Reception edit

Rex Reed described the film as an "avant-garde porno flick" and "the most disgusting thing [he]'d ever seen", writing in The New York Daily News that it caused a "scandal" in Paris, where he saw it.[6]

Writing retrospectively in visual arts journal Afterall, Thomas Dylan Eaton describes the longer cut of the film, which in his opinion is Terayama's most "disturbing", as a "triumphant insurrection [against] film", although being, if not "scatological", then containing "malignant humour [...] more often offensive than amusing".[4]

Awards edit

The film had the honor of being shown at a very early edition of the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, an independent selection of Cannes, in 1972.[7]

Cast edit

  • Keiko Niitaka (新高恵子)
  • Salvador Tari (サルバドール・タリ)
  • Tarō Apollo (アポロ太郎)
  • Mitsufumi Hashimoto (橋本光史)

Influence edit

References edit

  1. ^ トマトケチャップ皇帝 (in Japanese). jmdb.ne.jp JMDB. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  2. ^ あらすじ・解説 - トマトケチャップ皇帝 オリジナル完全版 (in Japanese). movie.goo.ne.jp. Archived from the original on 26 April 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  3. ^ "ジャンケン戦争 の映画情報". Yahoo!映画 (in Japanese). Retrieved 7 October 2022.
  4. ^ a b Eaton, Thomas Dylan (Winter 2009). "The Imaginary Martial Theatre of the Emperor Tomato Ketchup". Afterall. pp. 91–97. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2022.
  5. ^ "Subversive Saturday: Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1971)". 30 November 2013.
  6. ^ Reed, Rex (2 June 1972). "'Joe Egg' Appeals to Limited Audience". The New York Daily News. p. 58. Retrieved 7 October 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Empereur Tomato-Ketchup". Quinzaine des cinéastes (in French). Retrieved 8 October 2022.

External links edit