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This study of a fascist ideologue, Ikki Kita, has become a major commercial success in Japan. It comes from an outstanding modern director, Yoshida, who earlier made Eros and Massacre. Coup d'Etat follows the career of a right-wing revolutionary whose theories led to an army uprising in 1936. Ikki Kita wrote A Draft for Rebuilding Japan, in which he advocated a right-wing militaristic revolution in favour of the Emperor. His writings had enormous influence and contributed to a resurgence of Japanese militarism and her entry into the Second World War. But the uprising, in which a number of politicians were killed, was put down, and Ikki Kita was executed.
Yoshida recreates these events, through a fine script by Minoru Betsuyaku, and striking black and white photography by Motokichi Hasegawa. The opening, with a financial adviser to the government stabbed to death outside his home, is one of the film's few violent moments. Yoshida concentrates on exploring motives of the plotters and victims, and illustrating the ceremonial and mysterious mannerisms of his central character.
'Brooding pace, extraordinary black-and-white lensing and a continuing feeling of menace and intrigue imbue this tale of the political side of the Japan of the Thirties.'