Documentaries, the little slices of life they are…
It’s always interesting to see how filmmakers approach a certain genre, and this no less concerns the work of Norwegian filmmaker Frederik S. Hana, having already wrapped up a number of shorts prior to pairing up with best friend, actor Marius K. Lunde for their latest striking endeavor, Codename: Nagasaki.
Several parts dark horror fantasy, detective story, period chambara and regional drama, the remainder of Codename: Nagasaki encompasses the journey and discernible affects on Lunde as he and Hana ready themselves for a quest to find Lunde’s mother. Save for the few more personal moments, close to nothing is off the table as Lunde puts himself on the spot to prepare himself for the hopeful day he finally gets reunited with the mother he hasn’t known since she left him at age five.
Codename: Nagasaki is told in seven chapters, each accounting for Lunde’s day-to-day experiences during this process, part of which includes quite a bit of research as he contacts Embassy officials, a Japanese language teacher, and even a private investigator. Lunde even goes so far as to stage a shorthand production to enact his reunion on film with an actress, and a small crew on hand.
The style and pizazz here though, are all thanks to the duo’s eclectic mix of elements, blending a bit of Kurosawa and Bogart into the mix with whole rafts of visually stunning sequences produced with either practical effects and animation, sprinkling vivid imagery with surreal poise. Lunde is a character with multiple roles throughout for each segment of the documentary in some duration, all comprising a level of intimacy and interpersonal thought and vulnerability that comes with the package.
The documentary never wanes from its initiative and direction though. Codename: Nagasaki is grounded in understanding of the human condition and learning, all in the course of Lunde’s exploration, self-discovery, coping with the pain of years lost without family, and ultimately, healing. Lunde and Hana exude the kind of empathy and perception it takes for this kind of journey, and it’s even more engrossing to see how they apply cinema to encapsulate it all, and its implied theraputic nature.
Codename: Nagasaki is a different kind of documentary, and effectively, a special kind at that. I can’t speak for all those who’ve lost touch with a loved one, or have never known the love of a parent. Of course that’s where Lunde comes in, in partnership with Hana and their small crew, and if you at all fit the bill and happen to catch this viscerally intriguing, at times hypnotic and captivating documentary, I hope it does as much for you as it discernibly did for Lunde, or anywhere close.
Codename: Nagasaki is screening for the North Bend Film Festival through July 18.