Silence Has No Wings

Silence Has No Wings ★★★★½

It is shocking that Silence Has No Wings has so few views. As with most Japanese New Wave films, it tackles many social and political issues specific to Japan. There is no shortage of visually engaging and thematically dense films from the Japanese New Wave era, but what makes this one stick out from an impressive collection of films is its form and structure. Kazuo Kuroki opted to go without traditional narrative techniques; instead, he presents the viewer with a series of largely symbolic vignettes that differ in genre and are all loosely connected. This approach allows for many challenging topics to be touched upon fascinatingly.

The caterpillar, symbolized by the always beautiful Mariko Kaga, is making an unendurable journey from one end of Japan to another. For each destination and theme that is explored, Mariko Kaga embodies a different persona. The filmic representation of ruminations on the effects of the atomic bomb, capitalism, nationalism, vanity, etc., in Silence Has No Wings is abstract, experimental, and challenging, but always engaging and interesting. Rarely have I seen a motion picture that was so poetic.

Captivating and complex, Silence Has No Wings is on par with the most highly regarded and recognizable Japanese New Wave films. It is poignant and pulchritudinous, and it won't be leaving my mind any time soon. For all the people who have affection for the films of Ōshima, Imamura, and Teshigahara, this film is necessary viewing. If the film's themes are too difficult to understand due to a lack of familiarity with Japanese history and culture, the film can still be appreciated solely as a sensory experience. With there being so much to unpack, I imagine that my appreciation for the film will only increase the more I think about it and upon a rewatch.

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