10. The Quiet Family/The Happiness of the Katakuris


OK I know this one is a little bit of a cheat.  But here at the “Things Fall Apart” Offices, there has been a huge debate whether to:

a) Include either of these films at all

b) Include them as separate entities

The debate was won by me, by including them both, but in the same entry.

You see they are the same film.  Sort of.  Well one is an interpretation of the other.  Like “High Society” is a musical interpretation of “The Philadelphia Story”.  “The Happiness of the Katakuris” is a musical interpretation of “The Quiet Family”.  Only with Zombies.  And Claymation. 

Now I saw “Happiness..” first, and only saw “The Quiet Family” for the first time very recently, but I was aware of their links.  And I am going to start with the original.  So first let us go to Korea.

This is a wonderful Black comedy.  The basic premise (which is the36971-large same for both films) – a family take over a mountain bed and breakfast.  Business is poor.  They get a guest.  He commits suicide.  They hide the body, so their business is not ruined by association.  And then the bodies pile up

I am rather partial to Black Comedies, but to be honest, I had only really seen British Film Makers pull them off with any real success before.  Think, “Shallow Grave” or “Arsenic and Old Lace”.  This film opened my eyes to the opportunities that there could be such cinematic treats available elsewhere.

The film is deliciously directed by, he of “Tale of Two Sisters” (of which more later).  It looks good, but barely hints at the full glory of what he will eventually achieve.  I know that sounds like damning with feint praise. It was not meant that way.  It is good.  But boy will it get better.

Criticism – maybe just a little overacted at times, and maybe just maybe it goes one death too far.  But a fabulous little movie.  Heck, I reckon the Americans could remake it without too much pain.

Which takes us to Japan.  And our old friend Takashi Miike. the-happiness-of-the-katakuris-cover-1 Although interestingly he does not remake it including his usual excess.  No, he remoulds it.  Adds musical numbers, dance numbers.  Changes some of the subplots.  Changes the makeup of the family.

And it so nearly works.  It is quite wonderful madness. 

Cinematographically it is one of Miike’s most beautiful films.  Indeed, when he reign’s himself back on disturbing the audience he can be quite outstanding.

But it just does not quite hit the mark.  and until recently, i could never quite put my finger on why.

Then I saw the original and understood.  Black Comedies I think need to be rooted in reality.  That is what makes them black. Here, maybe too much gets thrown against the wall, and not enough sticks.

Still an interesting experiment – and one I would thoroughly recommend.

BUT given the choice.  Stick with the original.


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