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Old 09-18-2010, 07:27 AM
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Suicide Club (2001) - SPOILERS included

I finally got around to watching Shion Sono's 2001 film Suicide Club, and I have to admit, at the end of the movie, I am left feeling a little disappointed and empty - As though either there was some kind of resolution that was missing OR I just didn't "get" the film in its entirety to appreciate it in full.

Granted, I realize that the movie's ending was left purposefully vague, but at the same time I felt myself wondering, well, What was the whole point of this macabre journey that Sono just took me through?

Obvious themes that the movie wishes to discuss:
  • Suicide, particularly focusing on students, which is incredibly purposeful and risque due to the high amount of suicide amongst students in Japan
  • Peer pressure - While the concept of "peer pressure" might seem to belittle the film as a whole, I think that it's incredibly poignant, especially when we watch the second mass school suicide from the rooftop - What starts as a "joke" ends with most of the students hurtling themselves to the ground. I found that to be quite possibly one of the most disturbing scenes in the film - It's about peer pressure and saving face (the girl who doesn't jump immediately but then grabs a schoolmate and tells him, "We HAVE to jump now!" as she flings themselves both off
  • The collective and susceptible unconscious - Clearly there is a connection to the girl group Dessert, their songs seeming being a constant backdrop to the suicides... Plus in the climactic scene Mitsuko discovers the "code" S-U-I-C-I-D-E in the Dessert poster in her boyfriend's room, which leads here to the concert

One theme that I honestly didn't "get" was this concept of being "connected to yourself." It's the discussion between detective Kuroda and the boy on the phone about being "connected to yourself" that honestly baffled me. We have this concept that you are connected to your loved ones, even after death, but whether of not you're connected with yourself is left up for interpretation. Of course, Mitsuko says that she IS connected with herself, but that only leads to her skin being lathed off, which implies that she's next on the Suicide bandwagon...

But yet she DOESN'T do it... So what's the message there? That there isn't a concept of pre-destined suicide... That you still have control over yourself and you can stop it (unlike previous scenes in the film where it seems as though no one is able to stop the suicide once people have been "marked"). I don't know. Sure, we can say that it's open for interpretation, but I'm curious as to what YOUR interpretation is... Of the movie... Of its themes... Of the ending...

Because I'm baffled... but yet incredibly interested. That's the thing; I can't just write off this movie - It's too intelligent... therefore I really want to know what other viewers of the film thought/felt about it. What am I missing? What did YOU think?

Let's discuss.
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Old 09-18-2010, 07:32 AM
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I found this movie thoroughly predictable and boring most of the way through. The ending wasnt disappointing to me only because I knew what was coming. But all in all I agree that it was disappointing. People who haven't seen it can watch it here if they are interested. http://www.asian-horror-movies.com/suicide-club.php
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Old 09-18-2010, 07:49 AM
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There were definitely some interesting scenes in the film, but I did not "get it". When watching a film laden with incomprehensible symbolism, I try to decide if just the experience of watching the film (not necessarily understanding, just the experience) is good enough. Every once in a while it is, but Suicide Club wasn't one of them.
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Old 09-18-2010, 10:29 AM
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Any movie with this can do whatever it wants.
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Old 09-18-2010, 02:36 PM
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It's kind of been a while since I've watched it, I remember the basic's of the story but don't fully understand why either. A song that tells people to kill themselves why, people have got to be kind of stupid to fall for that.
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Old 09-18-2010, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by massacre man View Post


Any movie with this can do whatever it wants.
LOL - True. His song was pretty epic.
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Old 09-18-2010, 09:56 PM
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Its more or less a satirical approach to Japan's society as it exists today.

Notice a prominent similarity to Battle Royale (not plotwise, but in the theme?). The youth of Japan feels neglected, outcast, their parents or their country don't give two shits about them. Noriko's Dinner Table explains some finer points a bit better (if you haven't seen that yet, make sure to do it now AFTER watching Suicide Club) but the overall message is this - if all the Japanese youth were non-existent tomorrow through some/any sort of bizarre happening, would it matter? They are there for themselves and for each other - connected through electronic or internet means - but nobody else notices them around.

Basically that is also the explanation for the "connecting to yourself" part. Do you, as a youth, value yourself as much as you value everything else around you? Because no one else cares or values you (not even the parents, according to the teens). These films basically provide that vision of Japanese society, as seen from an angsty alienated teenager's point of view. The youth feels detached from the mainstream Japanese culture, and they wonder if anyone including their own parents will ever understand them.

Also the symbolism of sudden waves of teenage fashion which come and go - a particular hair style, funkadelic clothes, cells and mobile text msgs etc. Suicide is shown as a grotesque message of the next wave of fashion - with teens jumping on the bandwagon because of the above-mentioned reasons. Their value of life is very little - what matters more to them is to be accepted.

Read this - http://www.snowbloodapple.com/suicidecircle.htm
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Old 09-19-2010, 02:29 AM
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That's the best reasonable explanations I have read so far about the film. Thanks a lot V for putting everything in so simple but effectively.

Anyway, let's try to see the matter in a bit hypothetical or symbolic way. The thing is in a somewhat multi layered modern day cultural scenario here existence becomes like a structured & scheduled module designed by the society & family for a particular age group of young people. Does everything else around them are the ultimate means of defining their way of life? Does every relationship they have or bound by the family or social groups really delivering the worth of value that supposed to? These revelations are coming through as their self detachments from the society & family generated by the generation gaps and dependence on or backdrops of technological advancements in everyday & way of lives causing frustration, confusion or disbelief regarding finding a meaning of their identity in the society & family.

Sono painted here a enigmatic & symbolic representation of his key theme: a dis-connected reality of communication between young people and adults that is being fueled by online social networking and by the distortion provided by media via the power of pop culture. The ultimate truth here for the young generation – the kids – feel that adults have become too smug and contented, that they have lost the bond that makes them compassionate to those around, and have become removed from their own children. The authorities and the educators have almost lost the upper hand. In a society where most people are too busy with themselves to the extent that they have lost touch with others, thereby losing touch with themselves as well, suicide is one rational way out of it. It is its finality that helps (for a brief moment) the participants to feel human, to be really together by joining in death. Even for people who kill themselves in isolation, there is the sense of belonging to a wider suicide circle. Characteristically, none of them make any attempt to communicate with the outside world, none of them really make an effort to let someone save them because they reject what this salvation would imply: a return to the anonymity of a world overloaded by communications.

The songs of the Dessart also hold some key info. Dessart sings about finding a place to fit in this world. There's a place for all of us, they say. But in fact this is the irony: the way to fit is only through reconnecting with oneself. For people, who are social animals, this should mean reconnecting with others. But they don't and they are therefore doomed. When the boy on the phone asks Kuroda whether he is connected with himself, his voice is then replaced by a girl who asks why Kuroda could not feel the others' pain as he would feel his own. That is the essence of reconnecting with one's own self: re-establishing proper links with others. But he was detached even from his own family; he did not really feel even their agony. When his daughter shows up drenched in blood behind him, he does not detect the problem until he sees it with his eyes, by which time it is too late. Or the family where the mother slices herself is cooking in the kitchen while the rest are sitting in the living room.
And yes, Mitsuko says that she IS connected with herself, that’s why didn’t eventually go for the suicide but then why she let her skin being lathed off? She supports the whole cause, has belief in this concept but she eventually finds a meaning to live & value her life again...as Dessart’s last song in the movie…”As We go…we’ll forget the pain…we’ll find life again.”
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Old 09-19-2010, 04:41 AM
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Exactly.

In both films - Suicide Club and Battle Royale - you don't see even a single parent shed a tear for their children. What kind of a severe dysfunctional society has that led to? If you don't live and follow by a set of rules your family has put forth, you will not be a part of it. Your own family ditches you once you try to make a track for your own self? That's why the kids grow up and develop their own likes and dislikes, and don't expect their parents or peers to understand them. Say for example, why do they like a particular set of music/songs, why do they linger in such company, where are they and what are they doing, etc.

Teens have stopped expecting from their parents to understand them or their choices, their needs, their thinking. And that's what Suicide Club defines in its own bizarre way - teens as friends are ready and willing to share their death with you, while your parents and peers don't give a shit about your life. There's the sense of belonging for an outcast, hence he/she's willing to die with his/her fellow teen friend. My friend is with me through death and after, while my own family doesn't know my existence in my life.

It's a dark and bizarre representation of a teenager's mindset today which Sono has brought to the screen. And he's not wrong, for the most part.
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Last edited by _____V_____; 09-19-2010 at 04:43 AM.
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Old 09-19-2010, 05:04 AM
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I've no doubt that those interpretations were correct, but even after the explanation my final verdict on the film is:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxrGSul1GhU
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