I can't bear to enter a film late, I did, by 10 minutes, it was free, as Singapore gifts me strange graces daily. But I was left never knowing the precise genesis of Oshima's picture of four young men in Tokyo. In all, a rewarding picture, not only for its rich, and now nostalgic, palette and its simply captured sea shanty acapella. But mostly those.
The films bears some comparison to A Clockwork Orange, both films prompted by sexual violence question what strength holds in place an emerging society's bounds of sexual propriety; both films concern men and the measures employed for their sexual restraint, and consequent repression. In Clockwork the strength of the state is called to restrain sexual desire of youth run amok, in Sing a Song, we see the fantasies of four such youth who would, were it not for the weight of tradition, education and class (?). Accordingly, we see these frustrated imaginations play out in Freudian gardens, locked manor houses, examination halls and coal mines.
Into all this, enter music, hence the title, and here used in a way quite other to Clockwork's Ludwig van therapy. Here music calls them out of captivity 'Youngsters can't even tell they are oppressed, this is why we sing songs.' Music assuages 'their misery'. And here where music is the food of free love, where 'love is the only behaviour of resistance', we see a confluence of imported Vietnam protest and Japanese New Wave sexual liberation.
Music brings meaning to death: 'His death isn't meaningful' … 'Yes it is, it is our duty to prove it.' Music seduces mischief's would-be widow, music hypnotises and kindles unity, music portrayed in such unadorned recording here celebrates thatcertain strength of spirit manifest in both sexual rebellion and political protest.