Special Series
Free, Shuji Terayama

Farewell to the Ark


Directed by: Shūji Terayama
1984 / 127 minutes / Unclassified 15+

“Come back in a hundred years’ time. After a hundred years you’ll understand.”

Inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Terayama’s final and elaborate opus takes place on a remote Okinawan island, where a mythical time law rules and shapes memories, life and even death. Sutekichi and his cousin Su-e love each other, attracting the attention and insults of the superstitious inhabitants of an isolated village beyond time. When Sutekichi murders his rival Daisaku, the couple decides to flee from the village, but Sutekichi is haunted by Daisaku’s ghost and increasingly affected by the unforgiving course of time. In a parallel storyline, green tones and dreamlike filters imprison a young girl in an estranged timeline, where she leads a solitary life due to a dreadful and unforgiving curse. Time and its undeniable irreversibility are the focus of Terayama’s film, which starts with the “burial” of time in its opening sequence, and ends with the completion of this uncanny cycle.

Audience warning: Contains strong themes, sexual references, violence and nudity

Monday 1st November

Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra

Sunday 5th December

ACMI, Melbourne

Screens in: Canberra and Melbourne

Director: Shūji Terayama

Cast: Tsutomu Tokito, Mayumi Ogawa and Yoshio Harada

Genre: Special Series

Category: Free, Shuji Terayama

Language(s): Japanese with English subtitles

Format: 16mm b&w & colour

This film is part of JFF 2021’s Special Series which honours prolific and multifaceted artistic career of Shūji Terayama (1935-1983). From the mid 1960s to the early 1970s, Angura (underground) theatre, which imported ‘freak show’ elements, twisted eroticsm and the reinstatement of folklore that had been excluded from modern theatre, reached its zenith in Japan as an anti-establishment movement.  Terayama founded the internationally acclaimed theatre troop ‘Tenjō Sajiki’, and was at the centre of this experimental scene. However, his creation was not limited to theatre, and as a filmmaker, poet and social and cultural commentator, he was a leading figure in the ‘expanded cinema’ being explored in post-WWII Japan.

This program presents a handful of the late auteur’s short and feature-length cinematic work showcasing his signature transgressive approach to filmmaking. From dismantling concepts of time, history and myth to visually audacious portrayals of sexual and political revolution–these films are at once unexpectedly beautiful and discomforting.