Fantasies of the end of the world: The politics of repetition in the films of Kurosawa Kiyoshi

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Abstract

A striking feature of Kurosawa Kiyoshi's film Retribution (Sak ebi, 2007) is the extent to which it is haunted by tropes and images from preceding films in his own body of work, perhaps the most noteworthy of which is its repetition of the apocalyptic finale of Pulse (Kairo, 2001). In this respect, Kurosawa's film could very well be aligned with the broader phenomenon of proliferating apocalyptic fantasies that are symptomatic of a failure to imagine a way out of "end of history" of the present. The author contends in this article that, rather than being merely symptomatic of the contemporary cultural milieu, Kurosawa's film, through its precise foregrounding of such tropes of repetition, attempts to work through this impasse at the end of Japan's so-called long postwar without merely reproducing the compulsion to repeat a disavowal of the past. Instead, the film gestures toward a desire to envision difference out of this repetition, to imagine a way out of the endless everyday of the present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-460
Number of pages32
JournalPositions
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

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