Les Rallizes Denudes – The Last One (1992)

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The perfect filmic totem for the world’s most obscure and dangerous cult band: French director Ethan Mousike’s “ambient documentary” about Japan’s self-proclaimed “Radical Music Black Gypsy Band”. Released on VHS in 1992, the film combines Mousike’s assemblage of archival backstage and performance footage with a series of concerts an obsessed Mousike crossed the world to shoot, at his own expense, during the savage, black-leather-clad final days of Les Rallizes Denudes‘ 37-year existence (sic!). Mousike eschews a narrative arc – the film lacks language of any sort, save for the fabricated French-Beatnik-Japanese creole leader Takeshi Mizutani “sang” in to avoid association with any of the societies he so seditiously despised – in favor of an approach both concrete and formally impressionistic: his film is disconnected, opaque, displaced, harsh and jarring, much like the mysterious, dark entity on which he is so singularly focused. Never has a performance-film worked so hard at summoning the abstract qualities of an artist’s essence and mystique! Les Rallizes Denudes’ story, of course, has all the makings of twisted legend. Started in the mid-1960’s, inspired equally by radical leftist ideology, confrontational theater methods and the bruising maelstroms of The Velvet Underground and Blue Cheer, the band set Psychedelic Japan aflame with its relentless, uncompromising approach to a rock and roll vision dually primitive and expansive. After bass player Moriyasu Wakabayashi and his Japanese Red Army comrades successfully hijacked a commercial aircraft – with Samurai swords, no less! – and were welcomed in North Korea as revolutionary heroes, harassment and the threat of imprisonment by Japanese Special Agents and the FBI forced an already-paranoid Mizutani into hiding amid the holy mountains of Northern Japan. Further radicalized and marginalized, Mizutani and his perpetually-changing lineup of Rallizes emerged from the bleak mists every five-or-so years to ply his brutal canon onstage for a new generation of slackjawed devotees. Existentially anti-commercial to the point of disappearance, the band never released an official album in its lifespan, and survive sonically to this day via the cavalcade of bootlegs lovingly produced by their hordes of freakishly zealous fans. A cogent film by a skilled director – however appropriately unknown both may be – about this band is a true treasure for musical, cultural and political radicals the world over. [Source]

2 Replies to “Les Rallizes Denudes – The Last One (1992)”

  1. Hey, just stumbled across this post and wanted to correct a few things: The article sounds like it’s based on the Rallizes section of Julian Cope’s Japrocksampler book, a good chunk of which is entirely fictional.

    So yeah, “Ethan Mousike” doesn’t exist and the movie was in fact made by Mizutani himself (most likely compiled from footage recorded by band members and fans). It even says so right
    in the opening credits: “Realization: Takashi Mizutani.”

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