WriterKaneto Shindo, Takashi Suzuki Release dateNovember 9, 1966 ScreenplayKaneto Shindo, Gan Yamazaki, Mitsutoshi Ishigami CastHideki Takahashi, Yûsuke Kawazu, Takeshi Katô, Isao Tamagawa, Kayo Matsuo Similar moviesWoman in the Dunes, Tokyo Drifter, Gate of Flesh, The Face of Another, The Naked Island, Cruel Story of Youth
Fighting Elegy(けんかえれじい,Kenka erejii) is a 1966 Japanese film directed by Seijun Suzuki. Filmmaker Kaneto Shindō adapted the script from the novel by Takashi Suzuki. The film has also screened under the titles Violence Elegy, Elegy to Violence, Elegy for a Quarrel and The Born Fighter at various film festivals and retrospectives.
Kiroku Nanbu (Hideki Takahashi) is a Catholic, teenager attending a military-tooled middle school in 1935 Bizen, Okayama. Living in a boardinghouse, he is infatuated with his landlady's chaste daughter, Michiko (Junko Asano). Unable to express his feelings or quell his libido with masturbation, due to peer pressure, shyness, and Catholic guilt, Nanbu turns to the only outlet left available to him: crazed, brutal violence.
Taken under the wing of Turtle (Yûsuke Kawazu ), Nanbu is taught how to fight through an elaborate training regimen. He then joins a school gang, the OSMS. A conflict between gang leader Takuan (Mitsuo Kataoka) and Turtle ensues concluding with Nanbu's usurpation of OSMS leadership. Setting a more aggressive manifesto of actively breaking all school rules, and avoiding girls entirely, he has a run-in with the school drill sergeant and is suspended. Turtle speaks to the school administration on Nanbu's behalf resulting in both students fleeing Okayama, leaving Michiko behind.
Now living in the Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima with his aunt and uncle Nanbu reenlists in school but is repulsed by his classmates weakness. He forms a new group and heightened conflicts commence with a local gang. Michiko visits to say goodbye to Nanbu and tell him that she has decided to join a convent as she is unable to bear children. She is later waylaid by marching soldiers. Distraught to new heights, Nanbu spots a poster for (real life) radical, political activist, Ikki Kita (Hiroshi Midorigawa), who he had met briefly in a tea house, and, reinvigorated, marches on to join in the events of Ni-niroku jiken.
The events of the film cover only the first half of the novel on what it was based. Suzuki had planned, and co-written the script, for a sequel covering the latter half of the story but was fired after his next film, Branded to Kill, and the project entered development limbo. In the book Nanbu joins the army, goes on to fight in China and is killed.
Fighting Elegy was directed by Seijun Suzuki for Nikkatsu. Suzuki actively encouraged Nikkatsu to purchase the rights to the novel by Takashi Suzuki. It was adapted by filmmaker Kaneto Shindō. Suzuki took many liberties with the script.