Offscreen Film Festival:The Man Who Stole the Sun

As if it were the most casual thing, a high school science teacher illicitly acquires some plutonium 239 from a nuclear power plant and proceeds to manufacture an atomic bombin the convenience of his own basement. One doesn’t need much more than a standard issue baking oven for that, didn’t you know? With the device assembled and operational, he goes on to threaten the powers that be and his very first demand is that baseball games being aired live on TV no longer get interrupted when the match outlasts the allocated programme playtime. He gets on public radio and soon becomes a major hype attracting wide attention but also establishes direct contact with authorities leading to increasingly wacky actions. As his demands are met it quickly becomes clear that he holds in his handsto power to get quite a lot of other things accomplished in this manner. Police are on his tracks, though, and one cop in particular is adamant on stopping him before it all spiralsout of control.

This movie directed by Kazuhiko Hasegawa is totally bonkers but also incredibly quaint.The characters, story and acting all worked for me and the overall tone is delightfully playful throughout in spite of the darker themes one could easily discern. It’s shot and edited in very creative ways and showcases some pretty amazing cinematography inservice of thrilling car chases, bus chases, helicopter chases and plenty of other wild stuntwork and action sequences. What really drove it home for me, though, was the deliciously absurd and self-aware humour permeating especially in the final act. Brilliant and timeless.

I had the pleasure of attending the 17 th edition of the ‘Offscreen Film Festival’ to catch anexclusive screening of this obscure movie in Cinema Nova in Brussels amidst like-mindedand equally enthusiastic cinephiles. The event was prefaced by a man claiming there were no or very few digital copies of this rare film and that this could very well be the first time itwas ever projected in Europe. If I understood correctly, he explained the reel was flown inspecially from Japanese archives and could under no circumstances be cut or modified for projection purposes and as such, it would contain about 30” of empty frames every 15’ or so which I guess corresponds to the time a projectionist would need to replace the reel onthe machine? I’m not exactly a connoisseur so don’t quote me on it, but in any case it certainly added a charming touch to an already memorable experience even if these interruptions did kind of break the rhythm. Indeed, I felt the runtime (147’) somewhat but fortunately the film is so darn entertaining, that’s hardly a concern worth mentioning. Theevening was as geeky as it gets and I utterly relished every second of it.

Loïc Charlier

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