Takeshi Kitano, 76, directed a new film, “KUBI,” which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in France on March 23. After the screening, the audience was on their feet, and the standing ovation lasted for five minutes.
The movie is about the Honno-ji Incident, one of the most popular historical stories among Japanese. The Honnoji Incident occurred in 1582, when Nobunaga Oda was attacked at Honnoji Temple in Kyoto due to the rebellion of his subordinates. This period is often the subject of dramas and movies because of the many unique warlords (Sengoku Busho), including the charismatic Nobunaga Oda.
The movie “KUBI” depicts the struggle for heirs, subversion, and betrayal. Director Kitano stated the following: “The real warlords…in short, they are not heroes, not great people. They are just bad guys. I expressed what they did in order to rise to the top.”
One of Kitano’s depictions in his film is “Shudo.” Shudo refers to the male-male relations between a lord and his retinue in the warrior class that occur in an environment where women are forbidden. Overseas, shudo seems to be described as ancient Japanese homosexuality. But, rather than homosexuality, this relationship occurred as a compensatory act in an environment where heterosexuality was unavailable. It didn’t mean only hedonistic sexuality. It meant unity in surviving the Warring States period together. The emphasis was on spiritual ties such as absolute obedience and strong bonds. Kitano said, “My own view is that it is because of this relationship that the retinue puts his life on the line for the lord.”
The film depicts a life-giving relationship between men that is not sexual love. It will be released in theaters in Japan on November 23.