I Just Didn't Do It | それでもボクはやってない
Released: January 20th, 2007
Director: Masayuki SUO
Run Time: 143 min
Tags: 2007, chikan, conviction, court, drama, innocence, justice system, law, Masayuki Suo, prosecution, Ryo Kase, subway, testimony
I JUST DIDN'T DO IT | それでもボクはやってない
Rush hour trains in Japan are famous for their timeliness. Unfortunately, they are also famous for the sexual molestation that occurs all but too frequently. Laws in Japan have recently changed and molesters are now jailed more than 6 months, less than 7 years on obescenity charges (or for violating an ordinance against disturbing the peace). They have women-only cars, and most of all, girls are getting tougher. It means girls shout “here is a molester (chikan)” or turns over a molester to police or train staff by herself at the scene.1 These circumstances are the focus of Director Masayuki Sou’s film, I Just Didn’t Do It. After an 11-year hiatus from directing, Suo says it was his sense of justice that served as the driving force to make this film. I Just Didn’t Do It is based on real events and Sou was intensely inspired by an article he read 4 years prior to making the film that depicted the ordeal of a man who was falsely accused of groping a woman on a train, and how that conviction was overturned later by a high court, exonerating the man.
Suo said he was fascinated by how the man, his wife and friends had worked so hard to prove his innocence. Suo said he was shocked to learn that the criminal court system throws the burden of proof on the accused who proclaim their innocence. “As a Japanese citizen, I was very angry to find that such injustice exists in this society. But even though I lived in Japan, I didn’t know this, and I think many others don’t know about it, either,” Suo said. “And having recognized this, I couldn’t just go on with life as if I didn’t know anything about it.”2 The film is best read as a statement on universal human values. Three key roles in the film serve to support this argument.
It is important to establish the high conviction rate in Japan before continuing any further. With a conviction rate of 99.9%, critic Mark Schilling points out that, “once you are in the system it can truly be a meat grinder.” He adds that the Japanese are thus, a law abiding-people for a very good reason.3 Schilling’s statement supports the idea that the conviction rate is well know amongst the people of Japan and that it is quite the ordeal once mixed up within the system whether an individual is guilty or not. To demonstrate human values in this context, Suo uses an eyewitness account of a woman who was also on the train that day. Despite the knowledge of the high conviction rate, and the idea that going against the system is utterly hopeless, the woman bystander who serves as a key witness fights on the side of human values.
Her most compelling role in the film is revealed upon giving testimony during Kaneko’s trial. She explains that she had been wondering about Kaneko’s ordeal the entire day; this despite having quit her job on the same day, as well as having plans to travel to New York on the following day. Despite the significant challenges within her own life, her mindset was still focused on the innocence of a stranger. The woman’s focus on Kaneko despite the surrounding judicial and personal issues, is a statement on the power of human values. Also, her testimony is given seven months after the ordeal occurs. The fact that this was specifically revealed in the film shows that the persistence of human values over time is an important concept.
Moving on to Kaneko’s character, first and foremost his fight against the judiciary system and refusal to admit false guilt for lighter treatment indicates the strong role universal human values play within himself. When meeting with the public defender, stylistically, Kaneko is removed from society by the glass pane he sits behind, and this emphasizes that he has little power or choice in the situation.
In fact, whenever the details and logistics of his case are discussed with those who consider him innocent, which are his family, friends, and lawyers, he is seen looking at them through the glass window. The blocking of these scenes creates a clear separation between Kaneko and those who’s interests are in support of his innocence. This also establishes a clear boundary between the outside world consisting of Kaneko’s support group and the law, and consequently forms a strong representation of human values that is juxtaposed to the judicial system and the false accusation against Kaneko.
If the outside is representative of human value, then the role of the accuser becomes important, especially when examined on the level of style. We see tall white screens physically block the location where Kaneko’s accuser will be sitting separated from all the people in the courtroom with the exception of the judge and lawyers. The composition of this scene removes the influence of the human values of the outside as the young girl answers questions. The girl speaks in timid fashion as her sobs can be audibly heard from behind the barrier. This use of blocking and sound makes the character of the accuser seem very fragile and impressionable. The girl is blocked away from the camera and the prosecutor becomes the main focal point in the shot. The accuser’s answers favor the prosecution at this time. Without the influence of human values, the girls answers are composed and clear. Emphasizing Kaneko’s powerlessness, the camera pans right during these moments and shows us a reaction shot of his face as he is listening to the “facts” of the case without the ability to take action.
Reaction shots of the individuals in the galley of the courtroom show long faces and confused stares. Both of these shots indicate that human values are being tested as we listen to the girl give her testimony. When the defense begins questioning, they along with the galley are visible in the shot with the girl. This indicates that the girl is now being affected by the human values of the outside and this coincides with her choppy testimony. This contrast in style during the prosecution/defense questioning shows how human values influence the catalyst (the accuser) for the entire film. The balance of universal human values versus the prejudice of the law is showcased in this way.
Awards:2007 – Nikkan Sports Film Award – Best Director (Masayuki Suo); Best Film 2007 – Hochi Film Awards – Best Actor (Ryo Kase); Best Film (Masayuki Suo) 2008 – Awards of the Japanese Academy – Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Masako Motai); Best Art Direction (Kyôko Heya); Best Editing (Jun’ichi Kikuchi) 2008 – Yokohama Film Festival – Best Actor (Ryo Kase); Best Director (Masayuki Suo); Best Film 2008 – Blue Ribbon Awards – Best Actor (Ryo Kase); Best Director (Masayuki Suo) 2008 – Kinema Junpo Awards – Best Actor (Ryo Kase – Also for The Invitation from Cinema Orion ); Best Director (Masayuki Suo); Best Film (Masayuki Suo); Best Screenplay (Masayuki Suo) 2008 – Mainichi Film Concours – Best Director (Masayuki Suo); Best Film
Production Companies:Altamira Pictures Inc.
Fuji Television Network
Distributors:Toho Company (2007) (Japan) (theatrical)
Panasia Films (2008) (Hong Kong) (all media)
Special Effects:Big X
Nippon Eizo Creative
Other Companies:Fujipacific Music (music production)
Griffith (grip and crane equipment supplied by)
Imagica (film processing)
Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs (funding)
Kodak Japan (film stock supplied by)
Nihon Shomei Co. (lighting equipment supplied by)
Sanwa Cine Equipment (camera equipment supplied by)
Sound Inn (music recording studio)
Toho Sound Studio (post-production sound services)
Toho Studios (studio)
Yoshikawa Casting Office (casting)
Technical Specifications:Color: Color
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
Camera: Arriflex 535B, Zeiss and Angenieux Lenses
Laboratory: Imagica Corporation, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Film negative format (mm/video inches): 35 mm (Kodak Vision2 250D 5205, Vision2 200T 5217)
Cinematographic process: SphericalDigital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Spherical (source format)
Printed film format: 35 mm (spherical)
Aspect ratio: 1.85 : 1
Citation:1. Mari Kanazawa, Watashi to Tokyo Blog, July 06, 2006, http://smt.blogs.com/mari_diary/2006/07/molester_and_fa.html.
2. Sections of this paragraph taken from; Setsuko Kamiya, “‘I Just Didn’t Do It’ Questions Court System,” The Japan Times, February 2, 2007.
3. Mark Schilling, “Portrait of a Dodgy Legal System,” The Japan Times, January 5, 2007.