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For this 1961 first feature, Japanese director Susumu Hani recruited street kids as actors, rehearsed them extensively, and then allowed them to improvise dialogue and some situations. The results are genuinely powerful, as the new kid in a reform school is harassed by the others and eventually comes to terms with them and with life; the handheld camera and simple, almost natural lighting give the film a raw look entirely appropriate to its subject. Hani says he meant to comment on the “spirit of totalitarianism” in Japan, yet this totalitarianism, captured in the power relations between the characters, is undercut by the handheld imagery: the camera's subtle movements make every image seem subjective, impermanent, contingent.

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