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May 29, 2006



Shinya Tsukamoto - 1999
Image Entertainment Region 1 DVD

I wasn't looking to add another Japanese horror film to my list of films to see until I read that Gemini was based on a short story by Edogawa Rampo. Certainly the story of a twin or doppelganger has its direct inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe's William Wilson. Like other Japanese horror films, the emphasis is creepiness, on making the viewer unsettled with unexpected shifts of action.

The story is about a well-respected doctor with a new wife with a mysterious background. The doctor's life is disrupted by the appearance of an identical stranger who takes over his life. The doctor is forced to confront his condescending feelings towards the poor, as well as his sense of self. While the film takes place during the end of the 19th Century, the slum dwellers are anachronistically presented as proto-punks with dyed hair and phosphorescent colored rags.

The feeling of dislocation is first created by the soundtrack by Chu Ishikawa with distorted vocals and industrial percussion. Shinya Tsukamoto's first images are of maggots, followed by two rats feeding on a dead animal. What is presented is a discomforting world where everyone is reduced to an animal state, feeding off of each other. The actors, particularly Ryo as the new bride, Rin, appear other-worldly with their shaved eyebrows. The narrative serves as a critique of Japanese society during the Meiji Period. Historical concerns aside, Gemini is about the discovery that people are not always who or what you may believe them to be, even those closest to you.

Posted by peter at May 29, 2006 02:48 PM


Since I'm a fan of the director, as well as the actor Masahiro Motoki and both Rampo & Poe's stories, I'm really looking forward to seeing this sooner or later. I've heard mixed reviews of it so far, but I liked what you had to say about the film.

Posted by: K. at May 29, 2006 09:40 PM