Terayama Shuji 1935-1983
Shimpan AKA Trial AKA Der Prozess (1975)
The most important example of the so-called "participated movies" (kankyaku sanka no eiga, Terayama 1983, 214) is Shinpan (The Trial, 1975, also known as Der Prozess) 11 which brings actors and public to act together on the screen. Shinpan was defined as "the nail film" (kugi no eiga, Asai 1981, 9) – and could have been nothing else, as nails are present in every scene. They appear in a series of narratively unconnected scenes in which the actors perform repetitive movements with small variations.
Shimizu compares this pattern with the production process of anime and manga, where every drawing differs from the next one in an almost indiscernible way (cf. Shimizu 2012, 275). The above actions are always related to the theme of nails, which change shape, function and size scene by scene. However, they are never represented as simple objects, but gradually become metonyms for language, weapons, sexual organs and, in the end, human passions (cf. Terayama 1983, 213). As Hirose duly noted (2005, 180), every time a nail is hammered into something, its tip seems to be directed towards the relative object of desire. The only recurring image throughout Shinpan is that of a naked man staggering along carrying a gigantic nail on his back, which strongly recalls the cross of the Passion of Christ.
The nails progressively invade and fill the images, obstructing them, until the penultimate diegetic scene, when a man in uniform – i.e. representing Authority – begins to pull them out violently from a big white wall. After the last appearance of the man with the cross/nail, the screen becomes completely blank, while the score by J.A. Seazer continues in the background.
During the following nine minutes, the spectators are asked to knock nails into the screen – an action enabled by the fact that the screen itself is made of a white-painted plywood, in front of which a basket of nails and hammers has been left (see the projection notes in Nakajima 1993, 130). After this short period of time, "the screen becomes a wall of nails and [the short film] ends" (Asai 1981, 9), while the ending credits start rolling. The public is then asked to act on the screen while it is being projected. Consequently, the 'active' part (doing) and the 'passive' part (watching) of Shinpan are made similar by the same action, understood in both cases as 'interfering' with the images, and thus linking the dimension of the screen with that outside. However, if the diegetic personages are characterised by their ever-repetitive movements, the overall work becomes "a unique and unrepeatable 'event'" (Hirose 2005, 175), because the spectators change with every performance, and the quantities of nails and the patterns in which they are fixed also change, so that the projection "hides the possibility of expanding in a subtly different manner."