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Caterpillar

Dir. Koji Wakamatsu
2010 | Japan | 85 min | R21 (Sexual Scenes) | 35mm | In Japanese with English subtitles

Date: Sun 30 October

Time: 4:30pm

Venue: The Alliance Française

Lieutenant Kurokawa is the “god soldier” – a Japanese war hero who earns fame and glory for killing Chinese people in the Second Sino-Japanese War of the late 1930s. But in a twist of fate, he returns home as a war victim, deaf and mute, with all four limbs amputated and his face scarred with vicious burns. The burden falls on his wife, Shigeko, to care for this helpless husk of a man. She struggles to fulfill her duties as an obedient spouse in meeting with the lieutenant's unending demands for food and sex.

With Caterpillar,Wakamatsu significantly politicises Edogawa Rampo’s 1929 fantasy-horror story of the same name, which was banned from reprinting in Japan for its theme of sexual instinct. While the war is long past, what the audience sees is its consequences upon those who were not at the frontline.

Caterpillar is a potent critique of the nationalistic fever that gripped militarist Japan before the Second World War, and led the island nation to commit terrible atrocities against its fellow Asian countries. It also examines the gender inequality that once pervaded, and to some extent continues to fester in Japanese society today.


Awards: Berlin International Film Festival – Won Best Actress, nominated for Golden Bear.