Serpent's Path

Serpent's Path ★★★★½

As bleak as his genre films but without incorporating any of the supernatural, this is Kiyoshi Kurosawa at perhaps his most nihilistic considering that unlike those others there is no room left for interpretation here: the deepest, darkest, most basest depths of humanity exist within us all and constantly threaten to take over even (especially) if we're aware.

Interestingly, this is also one of his more artificial ones, characters who seem to act unidirectionally, stilted. What starts off as a relatively subdued story of revenge at some point descends into the unreal, or perhaps an abstracted representation of the real. Imposing, decayed architecture is a mainstay in Kurosawa's films but here it's the norm as opposed to the abnorm, the detours into bastions of community what seem most out of place as if these characters are less at home among the humdrum of everyday life than they are a solitary existence within decrepit, forgotten, industrial halls. The boundary between reality and representation becomes difficult to discern as unconscious images and Jungian shadows weave in and out of what becomes a mindscape for these existences. The two main characters themselves start to feel like two halves of the same person, one a rabid id and the other an incomprehensible superego. If there is an ego, he died long ago.

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