A SNAKE OF JUNE
the director of Tetsuo, The Iron Man and Tetsuo
2, Body Hammer
Winner: Special Fantasy Award & Best Actress
Oporto International Film Festival 2003
Winner: Kinematrix Film Award & San Marco
Special Jury Award - Venice Film Festival 2002
Rinko Tatsumi is quiet reserved woman in her
mid-thirties. She works as a phone counsellor
at an emergency phone line at the county mental
health centre. She is a very capable counsellor
and her husband Shigehiko is an important businessman.
They have no children.
It is June, the rainy season in Japan. One humid,
uncomfortable day, Rinko receives a strange letter
in an envelope inscribed: ‘Your Husband’s Secrets’.
Inside she finds photos of herself masturbating.
Rinko and Shigehiko live a comfortable and financially
secure life, and have a peaceful, quiet marriage.
Shigehiko is a workaholic and an obsessively clean
person. He spends all his free time cleaning.
At times Rinko feels her husband takes his obsessions
too far. Nevertheless, she loves him dearly. He
does not touch her, however, and because of his
neurotic tendencies they do not share a bed. Since
the arrival of the strange letter Rinko starts
to feel uneasy and anxious. Even though they do
not express their feelings toward each other in
a carnal way, Rinko is satisfied with their life
– thanks largely to her successful career. But
her cosy, familiar life is about to come crashing
down like a house of cards. Rinko becomes even
more anxious when she receives a phone call from
the man who sent the photographs.
Surprisingly, the man does not demand money.
Instead he demands that she wears a very short
mini skirt that barely covers her pants and that
she buy a vibrator. At first she rejects the callers
weird instructions. However, the man reveals that
he already knows that Rinko has been secretly
searching the internet to purchase a vibrator.
Feeling compelled to obtain the embarrassing photo
negative that the caller has of her, Rinko unwillingly
complies with the man’s demands.
In the mean time, the husband Shigehiko finds
one of Rinko’s embarrassing photos by chance.
From that day on, his peaceful but dull work-oriented
life starts to crumble. The man who has been making
the demands on Rinko approaches Shigehiko and
takes him to a secret club, where he forces him
to watch vile and horrible scenes. Shigehiko,
who had always thought of himself as a rational
man who could control his emotions and urges,
now finds his world turned upside down, his loss
of control driving him into confusion and loneliness.
Who is the man interfering in the lives Rinko
and Shigehiko? Can Rinko and Shigehiko, who have
slowly been drifting apart, restore the passionate
relationship between husband and wife?
DOWNLOAD THE TRAILERS
Rinko - ASUKA KUROSAWA
Shigehiko - YUJI KOUTARI
Igushi - SHINYA TSUKAMOTO
Director - SHINYA TSUKAMOTO
Producer - SHINYA TSUKAMOTO
Co-Producer - SHINICHI KAWAHARA
Screenplay - SHINYA TSUKAMOTO
Editor - SHINYA TSUKAMOTO
Cinematography - SHINYA TSUKAMOTO
Music - CHU ISHIKAWA
Sound - AOI STUDIO
Art Director - SHINYA TSUKAMOTO
Costume Designer - HIROKO IWASAKI
Assoc Producer - SHIN-ICHI KAWAHARA
Production Company - KAIJYU THEATER COMPANY. LTD.
ABOUT THE FILM
Shinya Tsukamoto’s A Snake of June is shot in
black and white, like the director’s debut work,
Tetsuo, The Iron Man, the cult film that really
established him as one of the foremost filmmakers
working in Japan today. In The Iron Man he used
a jack-hammer soundtrack and cyber-punkish composition
to describe the fear and horror of a body being
transformed into an iron monster. Yet at the same
time, he succeeded in bringing a poetic and erotic
sense to the textures of flesh and iron through
striking black and white film imagery. This time
he uses the texture of monochrome film to depict
eroticism. Black and white are colours, too. Tsukamoto’s
magic is once again evident in this film.
director’s previous film; Bullet Ballet again
depicts in colours of black, white and grey the
eroticism between a suicidal teenage girl and
a middle-aged man. Clearly Tsukamoto sees monochrome
as a very important tool in his filmmaking.
The subject matter of A Snake of June is sex
itself. The human body is examined – the living
organism subject to aging and eventual decay.
The awakening of the flesh, which every day advances
towards decay and death, is an awakening to the
fact of being alive, to a sense of fulfilling
the experience of life. In the director’s other
works, this awakening is brought about by an external
stimulus – violence. This time, however, the awakening
comes from within the body itself.
The protagonists are a quiet, reserved career
woman in her mid thirties and her workaholic husband.
Both are capable and successful at work. They
seem like a happy couple, at home in the life
of a great megalopolis. The wife Rinko is gentle,
kind, and maternal towards her husband. Her desire
for sex, however, goes unsatisfied. The husband,
Shigehiko is a fanatically fastidious person and
detests the things that his own body excretes
as well as any offensive smells. Materially they
live a very comfortable life, yet at the heart
of their relationship there is a great emptiness.
This is the story of a married couple’s resurrection.
Maintaining his fresh, unique visual style, Shinya
Tsukamoto has made a ground-breaking step in a
new direction with this tightly knit drama and
its wonderful performances.
Every year when the rainy season arrives I look
at the beautiful hydrangea blooms and sigh, “I
didn’t get to film A Snake of June this year either”.
It’s been like that for 10, maybe 15 years. At
first, it was about a brutal stalker and a housewife,
an immoral tale that would make the juices flow
in the mouth. But, funnily enough, when it was
finished, it had turned into something completely
different. You’ll have to come and see the movie
to find out how different; but the reasons for
this difference are many: the stalker’s outrageousness;
the anger he provokes; my own ageing. To be precise,
the finished film was illuminated by a single
drawing I did as a child. A picture of a snail
on a hydrangea that I did in the lower grade of
elementary school which was featured in the school
newspaper. I don’t remember the text, but I was
a very shy boy and it was the first work of mine
to receive approval by adults.
When I recall that drawing, the transparent blue
air around the hydrangea comes back to me. When
I came to make this film set in the rainy season,
that blue colour seemed to set the direction I
should take. Within the very extreme of vulgarity,
I wanted to see something pure, something beloved,
and something noble. While earnestly making my
movies from Tetsuo to Gemini, I was chasing the
phantom of A Snake of June.
The film is both a departure and an arrival.
It sings of eroticism, but in fact none of the
characters have any physical contact with each
other. Instead of the cinemascope size of ‘pink
films’ (soft core films), I thought about not
shrinking the screen too much, but of making it
square-shaped, one-person size. It tells the story
up to the ultimate moment of the only possible
contact. In the depths of the city, everyone secretly
dries up. If you can hear the faint cries of the
characters welling up from the bottom of the darkness,
I’ll be happy.
Shinya Tsukamoto was Tokyo and began making 8mm
films as a teenager. He studied oil painting during
his high school and college years and graduated
from Nippon University in 1982. He began his career
writing advertising jingles for television and
has since achieved international cult status as
Shinya’s first feature, Tetsuo, The Iron Man
(1989) received a top prize at the Rome Fantastic
Film Festival, which led him to be known as a
filmmaker with his own very distinct style. His
third feature, Tetsuo II, The Body Hammer (1992)
won the Grand Prix at the Sundance Film Festival
in Tokyo. Bullet Ballet (1998), and Gemini (1999)
which won the Audience Award at Pusan International
Film Festival, and world-premiered at Venice International
Film Festival. He has been a prolific filmmaker
of what he calls ‘cult-entertainment’ films, creating
a world with a unique vision and original style.
Apart from being a director he has also served
on the jury of the Venice Film Festival in 1997,
and performed various roles for the films of Miike
Takashi, Go Rijyu, amongst many other notable
famous cult film director often works a designer,
cinematographer, editor, producer and actor in
his own films.
Shinya Tsukamoto – Filmography
A Snake of June 2002
Bullet Ballet 1999
Tokyo Fist 1995
Tetsuo II, The Body Hammer 1992
Hiruko, The Goblin 1991
Tetsuo, The Iron Man 1989
Adventure of Denchu Kozo 1987
Phantom of Regular Size 1986
ASUKA KUROSAWA – Rinko: Born
December 1971, Asuka Kurosawa made her successful
film debut in Mitsuo Yanagimachi’s About Love,
Tokyo in 1993. Since then she has worked constantly
on television dramas.
YUJI KOTARI – Shigehiko: Born
August 1957, Yuji Kotari, a notable writer since
his college days, continues to write essays
and columns for a variety of magazines and newspapers.
He starred in Kenchi Iwamoto’s Monkey’s in Paradise.
Perverse Tale of Buried Sexual Desires
Winner at three International
Tartan Asia Extreme’s A Snake of June In Stores
Nationwide Feb. 22nd
“Remarkable … A nightmarish exercise in cruelty
and voyeurism” – The Guardian
“A self-reflexive study of therapeutic voyeurism
[from] Japanese cinema’s arch-poet of sexual hysteria.”
– The Village Voice
LOS ANGELES – Jan. 1, 2005 – From the man who
brought you the cyber-flesh cut hits Tetsuo: The
Ironman and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, Japanese director
Shinya Tsukamoto pushes the limits in a unique
fantasy world of his own design in the hauntingly
erotic film, A Snake of June (released in Japan
as Rokugastsu no hebi).
In an anonymous Japanese metropolis, a dark erotic
force infiltrates the lives of a reserved career
woman in her 30s and her obsessively clean workaholic
husband. Invading the most private aspects of
the couple’s lives, a mysterious stranger sends
an anonymous envelope bearing the inscription,
“Your husband’s secrets.” A deliriously perverse
tale of buried sexual desires, Tsukamoto’s surreal
journey to the dark side of obsession is as stylish
as it is totally unforgettable.
Like Tetsuo, A Snake of June features some of
the most powerfully shot images of modern cinema.
In classic blue-tinted monochrome, each frame
is composed with the skill of an auteur. The haunting
sets of rain-sodden alleyways, first-rate acting,
ingenious story chapters – and perhaps the challenging
way in which our sympathies are reversed – create
a taut and haunting psychological thriller.
Winner of the “Kinematrix Film Award” and “San
Marco Special Jury Award” at the 2002 Venice Film
Festival; “Best Art Direction” at the 2002 Catalonian