A of betrayal, courage, censorship, fear, sacrifice and wit.
Uncanny times that bespeak ours.
The double frame of the movie in the movie.
A series of mirrors and traps.
There is always more than first meets the eye.
The self-reflective dimension.
The deja-vu: breaking into the safe box, on screen and reality.
Playing with the viewer’s assumptions.
Film introduces the notion of illusion and performance.
The surprise effect and the ultimate sacrifice (killing the beloved).
Who is to be trusted? Who is reliable?
Putting the collective good over the personal happiness?
The game of hide and seek with the authorities. How to develop strategies of resilience and survival in the face of an authoritarian and brutal regime.
The chess game, the safe deposit box, the films.
Performing and using a persona to escape, to defeat surveillance.
To betray or not to betray? Is it betrayal when the government has proved so inhuman?
To be a spy or a hero? “Desertion” is the word the husband uses…
The drive through the forest: the only moment of lightness in a claustrophobic world.
The sense of threat, the constant fear of denunciation.
Projecting the film for the soldiers. The reversal and some possible denouement.
Why did her husband do this? To protect her? To protect himself?
Lack of resolution and closure.
The wife’s laughter is the only available means of dismissing horror and torture.
Her withdrawing into madness withholds the dilemma of expressing the truth in a way that would harm her and betray her husband and his cause.
Erasmus’s In Praise of Folly! The Shakespearean fool.
Finding shelter in an asylum, pretending to be mad in order to remain sound… Her only possible escape?
The incongruous and paradoxical hope that Japan will be defeated in order for the war to end.
Yet, some enormous and unspeakable sacrifice will be performed.
The coda: the effect of war, the allusion to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The collective toll paid by the population. She alone walks out like some ghost haunting reality.
The sea/The shore: to be left behind. Crying out of fear or relief?
His leaving and waving goodbye on the dingy boat. Escape (desertion) as the only outcome. To face the rage of the sea rather than remain silent.
The lyrics of the song in his own film provides the real message—a message that she alone can decode.
Three lines that resonate with our current predicament:
The husband to the wife: What seems normal to you might be offensive to others in these times.
The wife to the childhood friend turned torturer: You used to be nice. If the current time has changed you, perhaps you can change the current time.
The wife to the family doctor: Pretending I am a mad woman is the way to survive in this world without becoming one.