The Mad Fox

Written by Joe D on December 9th, 2022

I watched Tomu Uchida’s The Mad Fox the other night on ARROW. A streaming channel from Arrow Films. They mainly show Horror films and I am always tempted to cancel my subscription but then I run across a film like this one, that’s hard to find and really great. This is a very strange film, not really seen outside of Japan for many years. Based on a Bunraku play from 1734 it mixes Japanese theater techniques in with traditional filmmaking. At one point in the film we are transported to a house on a stage, the proscenium is in view and the story continues sort of as a play. There are characters wearing masks (The Foxes) who can assume human form. I love this mixing of techniques, rotating stage, masks, curtains, simple but effective practical visual effects brought over from Theater. To me it speaks of a confidence of the artist in his performers and material. For example there is a baby in the film, it is obviously a wooden doll but I defy anyone not to be moved by the actors interacting with it. Amazing! As Fellini and other filmmakers have said, Film is like Magic, an illusion you create in the mind of the audience.

The sets, costumes ,photography are all excellent, it is a visually beautiful film. The acting is great, even though it seems like traditional Japanese theater acting, it’s great. It transcends the cultural differences. There are paper butterflies flitting about on strings but they are cool little fires fly around, the spirits of the Foxes. Just great stuff.

The Film is really about the treachery and duplicity of humans compared to the nobility of the Animals. The Foxes in this case. It’s also a doomed love story. A Tale of Evil and  Innocence in Imperial Japan. Kind of a Fairy Tale for Adults. I recommend it.

I also watched a Crime Film by Uchida on ARROW. Another film little know outside of Japan but a big hit there. A Fugitive From The Past, another film that kept me from cancelling my subscription. Someone at ARROW is a real expert and lover of Japanese Cinema. Bravo!

Tomu Uchida

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