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Societal Commentary in Audition

Page history last edited by Sam Webster 12 years, 5 months ago

Miike uses his film Audition in some ways to comment on the contemporary Japanese society. This interpretation of Audition is prefaced by an early scene that blatantly states "All of Japan is lonely." The scene starts with disjointed images of young Japanese people moshing at a concert and then jumps to the men editing the clips, briefly connected in their mutual loneliness. This conception of a society of lonely people is stressed throughout the film, but is perhaps most directly addressed in the restaurant date between Aoyama and Asami.



Working from the outside in, the first thing to notice in this scene is the incredibly flat and banal conversation between Aoyama and Asami that starts with an awkward "how are you" and drifts off to talk about family and work. Their conversation holds little value and blends with the background traffic noise from the street, mixing conceptions of static traffic noise with that of static conversation. These noises eventually equate, and the conversation seems just as distant and meaningless as the traffic.

Plain conversation shifts the viewers focus onto the imagery of the restaurant, which is ultimately just as plain. Black and white, sparsely decorated, the space that Aoyama and Asami occupy is empty like their words. Miike casts their date as a social norm as we see other couples around the restaurant, probably having identical experiences to the one we are viewing. The couple behind the main characters are almost a reflection--similar clothes, similar seating; they are the duplication of the lonely date of Aoyama and Asami. The film pointedly never identifies with an individual in the restaurant, never showing a unique character, because it wants to convey that feeling of mutual loneliness: all these identical people on identical dates still feel lonely.

Miike emphasizes that loneliness with the disjointed editing of the scene; the film cuts back and forth, close to distant, high to low, and breaks the axis of action many times. Rather than shooting a long, continuous shot for the scene, Miike chooses to cut all around the characters, each time cutting away from a frame of reference for the viewer. This isolates the characters, and though we get a sense of their mutual loneliness from the scenery, that disconnection from one another is expressed by the multitude of varying shots.

With this editing, Miike jumps to an entirely different restaurant with no indication of doing so. This cut, rather than showing that disconnection from before, spreads the futility of the date (and, ultimately, of all dates) across time and place, emphasizing how useless Aoyama and Asami's relationship is to making either one any less lonely. This clip ends with an awkwardly high angle, far removed from the "intimate" conversation occuring in the restaurant and effectively removing the viewer from any importance that may be placed on these dates.


This futility of seeking to end one's loneliness is paralleled throughout the film by Asami's repeated lines. Her dying words at the end of the film are a compilation of lines from her dates with Aoyama. Interpreting this as a societal critique, Asami seems to only have so much to say, and that bland conversation was the extent of her individuality. Resorting to repeating these lines makes them astonishingly even more unimportant than they had seemed earlier and stresses an implication that the conversations that occur on those lonely dates are are the same lonely, useless conversations that make up the individual. Recycled words restricts Asami's ability to be different, to be an individual, but it also detracts from her ability to interact effectively with other people, rendering her ultimately lonely. This is partly the commentary Miike wanted to express throughout the film as set up from the beginning in which "All of Japan is lonely."


Comments (1)

Sean Desilets said

at 12:32 am on Dec 3, 2009

* I love the sharp focus of this page, which illustrates its point very efficiently.
* There may be a way to deepen this page by expanding it to address the gender-specific issues here--it's Asami in particular who has to produce all this false deferential language.
* the page mentions this to some degree, but it's interesting that Miike accomplishes this effect through a rejection of continuity editing.

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