Documentary Review: A2 (2001) by Tatsuya Mori

Aum Shinrikyo, presently renamed as Aleph, and notably the explanations and penalties of their 1995 Subway Sarin Gasoline Assault has at all times been a controversial theme as a lot as a burden and matter of analysis for the Japanese, as one of many newest documentary, “Me and the Cult Chief, launched in 2020, eloquently highlights. One of many first documentarians to take care of the subject, nevertheless, was Tatsuya Mori, with the 2 movies he shot in 1997 and 2002, titled “A” and “A2” deeming him additionally a controversial determine, earlier than, some years later, being acknowledged as one of the necessary documentary filmmakers of the nation. This overview will concentrate on the second of the 2 motion pictures. 

“A2” is screening free of charge at DAFilms as a part of the “Made in Japan, Yamagata 1989 – 2021” program

Though the primary doc signaled a closure for Mori concerning Aum, the passing of a brand new regulation that stipulated steady surveillance of the group by the authorities, instigated him to shoot a sequel, following the remaining members of the sect of their on a regular basis lives below the attention of the police and quite a lot of residents who make no effort to cover their hostility in the direction of them. 

Mori truly alternates his footage, specializing in all three of the teams, every of which face their very own struggles, as he strikes from metropolis to metropolis with a view to get a  extra common thought concerning what the remaining members are occupying themselves with. The angle of the members, together with “Me and the Cult Chief” particular person of focus, Hiroshi Araki, is fairly controversial. On the one hand, they really feel regret and guilt concerning the actions of a few of the members, however proceed to insist that the teachings of Shoko Asahara nonetheless apply, whereas they don’t seem to be keen to disband attributable to what occurred, or the hatred the remainder of society appears to harbor in opposition to them. This contradicting mentality is one which Mori tries to discover as a lot as attainable, though his sometimes pointed questions are normally met with “no feedback” replies, because the members interviewed appear to have been instructed to be very cautious on what they are saying or do. On the identical time, the kindness and politeness that characterizes them, which has truly led them to make pals amongst each the police and a few inhabitants of the locations they stay in, add much more to their complete contradicting portrait. 

The scenes the place the members of Aleph attempt to apologize and declare their will to compensate the victims, in quite a lot of non-public conferences, are among the many strongest within the film, since, regardless of their civilized methods, the individuals who meet them are brazenly hostile, clearly declaring that they don’t want their apologies, they simply need them to go away, each actually and metaphorically. 

The reactions, nevertheless, will not be at all times civil, as quite a lot of teams maintain conferences and even attempt to forcefully enter the varied buildings the members of the cult are staying in, coming to conflict with the police, whose members, on quite a lot of events, appear perplexed by having to protect folks whom in addition they despise. 

Lastly, the movie additionally focuses on the on a regular basis lives of the members, who nonetheless meditate utilizing their trademark gadget, sometimes oblivious to what the remainder of the world is considering them. In that style, Mori observes, however leaves the solutions to the various questions concerning the why they proceed or the place they maintain discovering funds to maintain themselves, to the viewers, in a mode that could possibly be described as observational, if he didn’t so often turn out to be a part of the “motion” himself. 

HIs personal and Takaharu Yasuoka’s enhancing works fairly properly within the movie, with the succession of scenes being ultimate, whereas there isn’t any sequence that could possibly be even remotely perceived as pointless, thus leading to a documentary that’s totally economical, regardless of its 131 minutes. 

“A2” is a superb film, highlighting Mori’s directorial skills as a lot as the truth that he is aware of his topic, whereas the fairly attention-grabbing matter is certain to nonetheless attract people who find themselves concerned with Aum, and likewise the idea of the cult as an entire. 



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