Hitsuji No Uta - a vampire movie without any vampires


Hitsuji no uta (Japan, 2002)

Seen: Saturday, 4th July 2009
Director: Junji Hanada
Cast: Shun Oguri, Natsuki Kato
Plot: Kazuna is a 15 year old boy who has not lived with his family since the age of 2. He has never been told why his parents gave him away, yet kept his sister. As strange dreams and feelings start plaguing him, he learns about the hereditary illness his family suffers from.


Impressions In Short
I saw this for the first time about a year ago because of Oguri Shun. I liked it a bit less this time, but I still think it’s a rather intriguing film.
I wish I had a better quality copy of it. I think it would evoke much stronger feelings if the cinematography could be properly appreciated.

More About the Film
If a film has characters craving to drink the blood of others then it’s hard not to call it a vampire film. But then this film has no elements of the supernatural and the actual blood-drinking is far from being its focus. It’s a very slow, psychological movie with lots of long shots of landscapes and its true focus is the feeling of isolation and shame (it has a hint of incest too). The scenes of blood craving show the characters trying to contain the feeling and stop themselves from giving in to it. There’s practically no action in them, it’s all inner struggle.
And I think this is why the film doesn’t have an audience ;-P An art house audience is unlikely to want to watch “a vampire movie”. A commercial audience, on the other hand, is unlikely to find a film as slow as this entertaining. And so, despite starring a major Japanese star in the lead role, it’s practically impossible to get this film on DVD. A DVD with English subtitles doesn’t exist and even if I’d settle for a DVD without subtitles (which I wouldn’t as I don’t speak Japanese ;-P), the Japanese DVD is all sold out and hasn’t been re-released. So if you are one of those few weirdos like me that finds this sort of thing appealing then you can’t see this film in the legal way…
It’s a shame that a DVD with English subtitles is not available - I’d love to see it in good quality. The film is beautifully shot and I think seeing it in proper quality would enhance the viewing experience quite a bit *sigh*
Even so, there’s a lot to appreciate. There’s some good and very understated performances from the cast (Kazuna’s sister is played by the girl who did Shigeru in Hana Yori Dango 2 and even she’s beautifully understated *grin* ) and it has its own special atmosphere.

Probably not for most people, though if you think an extremely slow and psychological vampire movie might appeal to you then this is definitely worth a shot *grin*

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