Everyone who likes Japanese cinema will surely have seen Shinichiro Ueda’s cult hit One Cut of The Dead (2017). And now, three years later, when the world is hit by a pandemic, Shinichiro Ueda comes with a completely remotely shot short-movie sequel.
[Complete short-film is available below]
One day, Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) is called by Mr. Furusawa (Shinichiro Osawa) and Sasahara (Donguri) with an offer to direct the first episode of a docu-drama series called True Story! Curious Crime Files. Higurashi is interested but immediately remarks that, given the covid-19 situation, filming is not possible. Furusawa states that the episode will be filmed remotely, that is without crew and staff meeting once.
One Cut Of The Dead Mission: Remote is a product of a limitation, the limitation of social distancing. Limitations, as Ueda’s narrative perfectly illustrates, do not act, as one might expect, as a hindrance to creativity, but as that what allows creativity to blossom.
The limitation of social distancing does necessitate a subtle rewriting of the cinematographical playground. As actors and actresses are not allowed in the same space, the staging of conversations goes, often, hand in hand with a multiplication – a doubling or a tripling or even more – of the cinematic frame within shot-composition.
Of course, one can still concatenate shots to imply that two characters are in the very same space, but one cannot avoid the discrepancy of backgrounds and other visual elements. If One Cut of The Dead Mission: Remote succeeds in having a narrative consistency beyond the ever-present visual inconsistencies, it is due to the interactions (between characters) as such. In other words, that reason why Cut of The Dead Mission: Remote works so well is largely due to the performances of the actors and actresses.
One Cut of The Dead Mission: Remote is a really funny narrative – a narrative that does not take itself seriously, but its comedy is different than the comedy in Shinichiro Ueda’s One Cut Of The Dead. While One Cut Of The Dead. was, at heart, a situational comedy, this short movie is more of an interactional comedy, a comedy exploiting the impact of the nonsense of the signifier (e.g. malapropism) on interactions as such.
One Cut Of The Dead Mission: Remote also utilizes another element to great effect: social media. Ueda, by giving the opportunity to fans to participate in this short-narrative, has given people the possibility to be part of a fiction. But, more radically, Ueda shows that every product of social media is, in some way or another, fictionalized or, in better terms, has the structure of fiction. One Cut of The Dead Mission: Remote is also one of the finest examples showing that something, in this case clips from fans, only attain a certain meaning by being inserted in the concatenation of signifiers that constitute the narrative.
One Cut of The Dead Mission: Remote is a fun, uplifting, and heartwarming narrative that successfully plays with the limitation of social distancing. In fact, Shinichiro Ueda’s Ueda’s short narrative is one of the clearest examples that limitations are not a hindrance to creativity, but an invitation to excel in creativity.