AKA Serial Killer (Adachi Masao, 1969) Film
AKA Serial Killer is a film by Adachi Masau. The movie focuses on Norio Nagayama, a young man who killed four people in four places between October 11 and November 5, 1968, while using a handgun he had stolen from a U.S. military installation. Teenager Nagayama Norio used a shotgun taken from a U.S. Army base to commit four murders throughout Japan between October 11 and November. Adachi Masao started with a camera to follow the young man’s path. The outcome is an experimental documentary entirely made up of landscape shots, each depicting a scenario that Nagayama may or may not have witnessed throughout his upbringing and travels. Adachi’s sparse voiceover presents merely the facts to provide a contrast to the sensationalism inherent in the media’s portrayal of serial killers, and the growing number of billboards in the landscapes gradually reveals the hegemony of capitalism in modern Japan.
Masao Adachi used his Theory of Landscape to show us the boy’s surroundings as he traveled the country looking for work, punctuated with a sparse, discordant experimental jazz soundtrack and brief patches of narration filling in the essential details of his life in the lead-up to his murderous rampage. This approach avoided creating a fictionalized account of the boy’s life and crimes or assembling a clichéd documentary (Killer, n.d). Even though it’s not an atypical “serial killer” movie, “AKA Serial Killer” will reward viewers who want something deeper and more thought-provoking from their films. Despite being built from a series of “landscape” shots, the movie gives viewers much to ponder long after it’s over.
Adachi Masao followed the young man’s path with a camera in hand alongside partners such as cultural analyst Matsuda Masao, playwright Sasaki Mamoru, and others. The end product is an experimental documentary entirely made up of landscape images, each depicting a sight that Nagayama may or may not have witnessed throughout his upbringing and travels. Adachi’s sparse voiceover offers only the facts. At the same time, the growing number of billboards in the landscapes gradually reveals the hegemony of capitalism in modern Japan, offering a counterpoint to the sensationalism present in the media’s portrayal of serial killers (which persists to this day) (Killer, n.d). AKA Serial Killer is a seminal work of political filmmaking and is credited with founding the influential “landscape theory” in Japanese film theory and practice.
A.K.A. Serial Killer is a landmark in the development of experimental and political film and is credited with developing the fûkeiron cinematic theory (the theory of landscape). Adachi, cultural theorist Matsuda Masao, screenwriter Sasaki Mamoru, and other team members set out to reconstruct the reasonable steps taken by a nineteen-year-old youth who committed four killings in 1968 that appeared to have no obvious purpose (Adachi, 1969). The end product is an experimental documentary made entirely of landscape photographs, each depicting a location that the subject may or may not have encountered during his upbringing and travels. Adachi’s sparse voiceover offers merely the facts to provide an alternative to the sensationalism present in the media, as the growing number of billboards in the landscapes gradually reflects capitalism’s control in modern Japan.
Throughout history, the media has frequently sensationalized serial killer crime stories or offered nothing more than fabricated descriptions. Director and writer Masao Adachi worked with screenwriter Mamoru Sasaki, photographer Takuma Nakahira, and film critic Masao Matsuda to create and apply landscape theory to filmmaking. They aimed to find a more meaningful approach to telling and investigating human behavior. According to the thesis, landscapes or locations reflect prevalent social and political power structures and oppressive systems.
Ideally, landscape theory explains that the contentment resulting from the aesthesia of the experience relies upon the perception of the landscape’s features. These features may include colors, shapes, and spatial arrangements; they act as stimuli for the particular environment. How we plan, manage, and design landscapes for human use and enjoyment of the domain is the actual meaning of landscape theory (Adachi, 1969).Ideally, what contributes largely to humans is nature. AKA Serial killer movie presents the plan and design of the environment that rhyme with the heart of the environment in which the incident occurred. Hence, the landscaping of this movie emerges as great human delight and satisfaction due to Masao Adachi and his crew instead directing attention to the settings where Nagayama and his victims lived rather than Nagayama. In doing so, the movie considers how a person’s environment may affect them.
The movie shows pictures of people on the go, bustling cities, rural life, and bleak places. It draws attention to the factors that influence our daily activities by depicting everyday life as simpler. It neither precisely identifies the social structures that cause emotions of alienation or discontent nor does it speak to political failures or corruption(Adachi, 1969). Instead, it captures what Nagayama might have seen and what he might not have seen, leaving us to judge how we believe his environment affected him and how we think our environments affect us.
Occasionally, Masao Adachi provides voiceover narration to accompany the visuals, saying nothing but the blatant truths of Nagayama and his misdeeds. Unfortunately, this narrative is unusual and rarely employed. Instead, a free jazz soundtrack permeates the scenes, cleverly incorporating brief moments of silence (Killer, n.d). The soundtrack’s introspective and anarchic nature is audible throughout the entire movie. At moments, it is ferocious; at other times, it is menacing. This energy reflects how chaotic and uncertain our daily lives are; we can never be sure of ourselves, others, the reasons behind our shared characteristics, or the experiences we may have.
Masao Adachi discussed making the movie and said: “We were going to make a movie about how Japan’s scenery repressed its citizens. We came to understand how the natural environment conveys the strength of society. The set was sufficient. “I agree; the view is adequate. Although facts document Nagayama’s misdeeds, the circumstances and setting add to the narrative (Killer, n.d). That way of thinking also applies to every aspect of our existence. It is in our best interests to evaluate how our settings affect us, as they play a significant role in which we are. It’s a brave and unconventional movie. And while some may disagree with the theory’s validity or how it should be used, no one can contest A.K.A. Serial Killer’s status as a masterfully executed and profoundly significant work of documentary filmmaking.
The Strangler Film
Only a few years after the Boston Strangler’s conviction and the case’s conclusion, The Boston Strangler (1968) was published. The 1968 movie primarily concentrates on the detectives who found the Strangler and the Strangler himself, but what distinguishes the next version is that it will focus on the two journalists who made the killer’s narrative famous (Fernández, 2006). Very soon, their story will be told. “Record American” writers Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole produced a four-part investigation on the Boston Strangler that connected the connections of the prolific killer and gave the perpetrator his name.
However, the most recent review of this case is the Hulu review. The Boston Strangler on Hulu is based on the accurate account of how two female journalists spearheaded the hunt for a deranged serial killer who strangled numerous women in Boston in the 1960s. Keira Knightley portrays Loretta McLaughlin, a happily married mother with three children. Sexism is pervasive in the Record American newspaper, even though it closely monitors crimes in the city and aims to report on them (Fernández, 2006). Every woman at the paper, including Loretta, is rejected for lifestyle, where she gets to evaluate the hot new toaster. Only Jean Cole (Carrie Coon), who has much experience covering Loretta, seemed to be permitted to report on more severe events. Her boss decides to take a chance on her after Loretta notices a link between three slain women and asks her to write it up. The press probe into one of the most horrible murders in Boston’s history is soon being led by Jean and Loretta.
All 13 women were killed in the graphic, ritualistic ways depicted in the movie. Other victims were later discovered dead with nylon stockings or bathrobe belts bow-tied around their necks. No indications of the break-ins or sexual assaults were left behind, and all of the victims had their apartments ransacked. The ages of the victims ranged from 19 to 85. Most were classical music fans who worked as nurses in hospitals. McLaughlin’s 1992 retrospective identified many as being “matronly” and single. Several people began to think there might be more than one killer due to the victims’ various ages.
The Boston Strangler was the film’s original title that producers Samuel Bischoff and David Diamond had in mind, hoping to capitalize on the ongoing fascination with the titular real-life serial killer. Afterward, the scene was moved to an unknown US city. Burt Topper was hired after his work on War Is Hell (1963), and production began in mid-September 1963.
The movie is so focused on jam-packing as much information as possible that it completely ignores characters, tension, and narrative structure. When trying to be frightful or suspenseful, it uses simple devices like following the victim while they go to grab something in another room (Adachi, 1969).When they return, the killer is there or making a disturbance, but it is just Loretta’s son. Once more, it could have been more stunning if this had been released in 2008. Nevertheless, any attempt to transform the movie from a simple description of events into something more theatrical failed then.
Although Topper enjoyed working with Bischoff and Diamond, he did not get along well with his star, Victor Buono. Cinematographer Jacques Marquette’s main memory of the production was Buono’s unwillingness to film a scene in which Diane Sayer was meant to be nude), and he once left the set for a day following an argument with actor Topper over the latter’s trouble reaching his marks. This account of Loretta McLaughlin, the first journalist to link the killings and break the tale of the Boston Strangler, is based on the infamous Strangler murders (Ruskin, 2023). She and colleague Jean Cole overcame the chauvinism of the early 1960s to cover the most notorious serial killer in the city and constantly tried to inform women.
The Boston Strangler purchased all the identical components because he wanted to mimic the Zodiac formula so severely. The grey filter, which always conceals the killer’s face, and the cuts to the killings themselves underscore the absence of humanity in the society where a serial killer performs these horrible acts (Ruskin, 2023).A devil-may-care expert is partnered with the wide-eyed reporter who lets their fixation interfere with their family life. Boston Strangler had time to think of novel ways to convey a serial killer story, but he unluckily became too mired in David Fincher’s shadow, which is still present today. Even so, if one has yet to hear it, it is a fascinating tale, so one may feel free to watch it on a rainy Sunday.
All of the Boston Strangler’s victims and targets were female. These people were killed by The Strangler, who also tricked them into letting him inside their houses and sexually assaulted most of them before strangling them with stockings, which was his preferred method of silence. As the narrative implies, as women working in a male-dominated sector in the 1960s, McLaughlin and Cole experienced regular workplace sexism (Ruskin, 2023). They naturally believed that it was their responsibility to use their position as journalists and raise awareness of this cunning lunatic when they discovered a thread connecting these many killings of women to a suspected serial killer. They probably saved countless lives due to their series on the Boston Strangler, which served as a solid warning for Boston’s female residents.
When comparing the movies, The Strangler and AKA Serial Killer (Adachi Masao, 1969), we can realize various similarities and differences in their content. The two movies have particular relevance in their theme. The movies have focused on crime-based situations, particularly serial killings (Ruskin, 2023). The planning and designing of the two movies are similar since they focus on a common theme of the play—both analyze incidences of the past that are mainly based on politics. The geographical locations of the two films are similar in that they are based on extreme environments of serial killings. As per the landscape theory, the design, plan, and execution of the movie are critical for the viewer’s contentment.
Again, the plan of the two articles has been tailored to meet the actual conceptualization of the expected environment under which such incidents happens. In AKA Serial Killer (Adachi Masao, 1969), we expect the environment where the serial killer incident happened to be horrific. Again, we expect the author to portray a concept that will create a natural environment of political Japan. The same idea applies to The Strangler; the images and design captivate the viewers through photographic representations of the theme by providing the actual imagery of the political Boston.
Killer, A. S. Film (n.d): Co-produced by Adachi Masao, Iwabuchi Susumu, Nonomura Masayuki, Yamazaki Yutaka, Matsuda Masao and Sasaki Mamoru AKA Serial Killer, 1969© Adachi Masao Screening Committee..https://hdl.handle.net/1887/3243318
Adachi.M.(1969). A.K.A. Serial Killer.Film Affinity.https://www.filmaffinity.com/en/film213830.html
Fernández, P. (2006). El estrangulador de Boston (The Boston Strangler; Richard Fleischer, 1968). Nosferatu. Revista de cine., (53), 182-183..http://hdl.handle.net/10251/41500
Ruskin.M. (2023).Boston Strangler.Hulu.https://www.hulu.com/movie/boston-strangler-323eae40-5c62-4765-949a-5b4f7f8f2ba4