God Speed You! Black Emperor by award-winning director Mitsuo Yanagimachi is a documentary following junior members of Black Emperor, the infamous bosozoku gang, or “touring club,” as they prefer to call themselves. This is not a car movie by any means. However, if you can tolerate the subtitles and plotless, meandering pace, you might be able to catch glimpses of Tokyo’s automotive landscape circa 1976 — everything from kujira taxis to shakotan Celicas — captured in raw 16mm.
With their fearsome name, swastika logo and swarm of motorcycles, Black Emperor probably seemed like a pretty terrifying lot. Yanagimachi, though, reveals that many of the members were just directionless youths, some homeless, some dropouts, and some as young as 17. Their activities appear to consist mostly of vandalism, loafing and getting arrested for being high. Well, that and amassing the largest motorcycle gang in the area (and fighting rival gangs who attempt the same).
There’s probably a message about transience or ennui in there somewhere, but we’re not a hundred percent sure what those words mean. Basically, God Speed You! is an art film that happens to contain an assload of old Japanese cars in the background. The uploader has not allowed embedding so click over to YouTube to watch it.
Note: There are several images of swastikas in the film. It has nothing to do with Nazis. By now most probably know it was originally a Buddhist symbol called a manji that Hitler perverted, but we thought we’d mention it just in case it wasn’t abundantly clear.
that’s not a swastika, that’s a manji (if you’re japanese)
Yes, that’s right. While writing the story I googled English reviews of the movie and was surprised to find several of them think BE adopted the swastika to rebel w/ no mention of manji or its origins in Buddhism. I should edit that to make it double dog clear with a cherry on top!
That is a swastika plain and simple.
Was the punk movement (contemporaneous with the film) using a manji?
The fact that this production is of Asian origin is *irrelevant*. Japanese biker culture was inspired by, and took much from the US biker culture, which used the swatika freely.
Ever see “The Wild Angels”? Those aren’t manji. And neither are they in this film.
Please get real and try not to whitewash the naive and insensitive use of this symbol.
this specific biker culture originated not only from american bikers but also kamikaze pilots, they’re the ones who started the bosozoku culture when they came back from war in the 50’s.
if it really was a swastika then it surely wasn’t because of america, after all japan sided with germany during wwii. we could assume they’d use that symbol since they originate from kamikaze and they have some nationalist beliefs.
we should also take other things into account though, they’re pretty much just some punks and punk itself was never about right wing beliefs, swastika is NOT a symbol that represents punk subculture as punk people oppose nazism. so no, they weren’t using a manji, but they weren’t using a swastika either (except for sex pistols who used the symbol for shock value and not beliefs)
it’s not “whitewashing” either – quite the opposite. since when is calling the symbol manji whitewashing? it wasn’t hitler’s symbol, he stole it from indian religious cultures. the symbol can be seen in buddhism, hinduism, and jainism. in asian countries it means good luck and prosperity, it can be seen on maps to mark temples.
there is simply nothing white about it… just basic history.
still, it’s difficult to tell what’s the context they had in mind, it could honestly be either good or bad but i guess we won’t know
sorry, probably a stupid place to ask…but do you guys ship to fpo addresses?
Interesting movie.. some might think it’s boaring but i thoguht it was cool.. i mean it is a documentary so don’t expect any killer car scenes or anything too exciting, the cruise scenes are pretty cool but not enough of em in my opinion.. still cool tho!
Also the name of an excellent band.