Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Osaka Night Trips and Falls"

Shot in one night with my cell phone camera.

Edited in one day with my Mac.

Inspired by Tokyo Reality and The Prodigy.

For more information, read the study guide/spoiler below.

What is this?

The other night I was out enjoying the Osaka night life. Time slipped by pleasantly and quickly and soon it was time to go. Hopefully I would be able to catch the last train home. I put on my earphones and switched on The Prodigy (Fat of the Land, 1997) on my iPod. On my way to the train station I encountered a dancing baby and a giant pig with skewered meat and beer. It was then that I decided I would make a little movie about my experiences that night and I shot several minutes worth of the baby and pig with my only available resource, my cell phone camera (Toshiba 910T allowing video recording in W320XH240).

As I continued to and through the train stations I encountered people returning home and/or engaged in other interesting activities. I started to put the film together in my mind. It would be a first person narrative based on the sounds and visions of my own experiences returning home. I likened it to the (in)famous "Smack My Bitch Up" video by The Prodigy (the video is constantly being removed and re-added to YouTube, so if this link doesn't work, do a search to find its replacement). Of course my night on the town and return home on the trains would be more mundane and less exciting than The Prodigy video. After all, I was a visual anthropologist making a documentary of real life experiences. I started to concentrate on certain scenes that would be necessary: trips up and down stairs and escalators, getting on and off trains, etc.

Then it dawned on me that I was making similar film as in the recent Tokyo Reality that I posted about not so long ago. This was to be my own low budget Osaka Reality. I was having a good time listening to music, making and filming my observations and contemplating such thoughts.

But then while I was transferring to a different train I happened upon the man lying on the ground. Was he simply drunk and passed out? Was he hurt and in need of immediate assistance? The music on my iPod was now a distraction to the worries in my head. The first thing I noticed is that no one was helping the man. Some people barely noticed him. Others carefully walked around him. Some seemed concerned but unsure as to what to do. A drunk man passed out on the ground is hardly a rare event at this time of night, but what if this man was hurt? I continued filming, not necessarily the man but the actions and reactions of the people around him. Finally a passerby noticed me and blocked my camera with his hand (was the passerby concerned about the man's portrait rights?).

I went up to the station attendant's office and told them about the possibly injured man. The station attendant already knew about the situation and as I turned away I saw the man being assisted out of the train station. So he was only drunk. Same old, same old...

Trying the catch the last train after a night on the town in Osaka. Who knows who and what one might encounter? Or maybe not. Maybe every night is the same.

My film changed drastically at that point. Sure, all's well that ends well, but what if the man was really injured? I was reminded of the Murakami Haruki book about the Aum Shinrikyo subway attacks; one of his main points was few people seemed to care or went out of their way to assist the victims during the tragedy. Many people walked right on by trying to get to work on time. Murakami ponders of how this is a reflection of Japanese society. Are innocent bystanders really innocent? So images of the dancing baby and partying pig were drastically cut yet their symbolism remain important.

Is this too much consideration for three minutes of poor quality video?

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