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Tetsuo: The Iron Man
Somewhere between a modern-day nightmare and a techno-fetishist's ultimate fantasy, this extraordinary film from Shinya Tsukamoto (Vital, A Snake of June) caused a cult sensation when first released. As a young man gradually mutates into a metal-being, the film takes a surreal journey into a dark and disturbing world where self-inflicted body transformations and post-human women form the fabric of a strange new reality. Likened to the work of David Lynch and David Cronenberg, Tetsuo: The Ironman molds explosive violence, bizarre sexual imagery and jet-black humor into a cinematic experience like you've never seen.
Shinya Tsukamoto draws on the marriage of flesh and technology that inspires so much of David Cronenberg's work and then twists it into a manga-influenced cyberpunk vision. A man (Tomoroh Taguchi) awakens from a nightmare in which his body is helplessly fusing with the metal objects around him, only to find it happening to him in real life... or is it? Haunted by memories of a hit and run (eerily prophetic of Cronenberg's Crash), the man knows this ordeal could be a dream, a fantastic form of divine retribution, or perhaps technological mutation born of guilt and rage. Shot in bracing black and white on a small budget, Tsukamoto puts a demented conceptual twist on good old-fashioned stop-motion effects and simple wire work, giving his film the surreal quality of a waking dream with a psychosexual edge (resulting in the film's most disturbing scene). The story ultimately takes on an abstract quality enhanced by the grungy look and increasingly wild images as they take to the streets in a mad chase of technological speed demons. This first entry in his self-titled "Regular Sized Monster Series" is followed by a full-color sequel, Tetsuo II: The Body Hammer, which trades the muddy experimental atmosphere for a big-budget sheen but can't top the cybershock to the system this movie packs. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In Tetsuo by Shinya Tsukamoto, the body is taken over by iron. Again the question of sexuality is high on the agenda as is evident in the scene where you see a male sex organ shaped like a huge iron drill spinning ferociously, hinting that love in our day often consists in the realm of the senses generated by genitalia and that a man's sex organ is nothing but a machine in such a context. We are just as inorganic as the machines that surround us and the iron and metals that make up those machines. As the man slowly transforms into iron, he experiences excruciating pains, to which we have grown so much numb. It seems to me that Tsukamoto's primary concern is the recoverty of the body, which in his case is almost always expressed with the imagery of sex, violence and pain.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I see that there are several sellers dumping their old discs here at Amazon. I recommend that you just pick up one of those rather than Tartan's shameless release...
As far as comparisons go, this is a lot like the work of Jan Svankmajer, in terms of effects and narrative feel (and I suspect Tsukamoto knows the work of Svankmajer well.) But the material is about as far from Svankmajer's social concerns as you can get.
I don't claim to know Japanese society that well, but I DO know it wasn't (and still isn't) nearly as tolerant as the US, and "Tetsuo" is a strong reflection of that. The main character is a man who is torn apart by guilt over a crime he has committed, and also for his failure to conform to societal standards. He is terrified of women, and he also resents them (epitomized in two extremely gory and unnerving scenes.) And because, one feels, that he's told that he's unnatural and inhuman, he BECOMES unnatural and inhuman, literally an iron man.
This is not a upbeat story; this is a story about a man who has destroyed himself and achieves the power to take the society that caused it down with him. Even finding love isn't enough for him. This is a movie about a man who is twisted and warped by society, and who will destroy everyone thanks to that society.
Personally, I found it fascinating, but unless you've explored Jan Svankmajer, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, and others extensively, I would be careful about approaching this. Put it this way; if you weren't bugged by "Crash" but found it interesting, "Tetsuo" won't be too much for you.
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