Galaxy (Gingakei), in many ways, embodies a transitional point in Adachi’s direction as a filmmaker. Many of his fellow society members offered production support, and in a sense the film could be construed as a continuation of the activities of the Nihon University Film Studies Club. Although at this point Adachi was already involved with Wakamatsu, the film was produced as the inaugural title for the Theatre Scorpio, where people began to take pink cinema seriously. Yet, Galaxy is quite unlike anything else Adachi has been involved in before or since, a substantial piece of art cinema that reveals the singularity of the filmmaker’s vision.
The narrative is nearly impenetrable; the meshed storyline is entirely subsumed in the nameless protagonist’s subconscious as he attempts to navigate his inner psyche, which has become a mercurial realm where space and time constantly redefine themselves. In his perplexed state, he encounters a doppelgänger, his father dressed in Buddhist attire and his girlfriend, whose size varies from normal to monstrous, and they all have a go at explaining where and what he is, only to cast darker shadows of mystery on the enigma. Deeply influenced by surrealism, each of the film’s gestures pulls us further into a dreamscape where reality and imagination are inseparable and logics of continuity, sense and oscillation in emotion are constantly refracted in different directions. The cyclical structure of the film gives an illusion of coherence yet, within the sphere, clarity spirals out of control while somehow managing to sustain its own dream logic. However, it is clear from our protagonist’s reference to an unspoken event of ’20 years ago’ that he is confronting what he has become in the post-war years.
What is most remarkable about Galaxy is its continuous ability to discover a film language of its own and its command of the abstract universe it has envisioned. Visual tricks unremittingly throw the main character in and out of spaces, always using captivating stylistic methods delivered with playful confidence. Characters emerge out of splatters of paint or from beneath a river, only to altogether disappear, and figures are frozen in position while their surroundings abruptly transform. A sequence on an enormous set of stairs plunges the protagonist into a real sense of bewilderment and conveys a depleted sense of self due to the mischievous tricks the monk, allegedly his father, plays on him. The soundscape, orchestrated by Yasunao Tone, who performed for Japan’s first improvised music collective, Group Ongaku, and who later joined Fluxus, interweaves different aural flickers to further layer the muddled haze. The dialogue, its content unfathomably cryptic, is often delivered in whispers, overlapped with other voices and distorted to accompany the racket of sound arrangements. Yet, amid this cacophony of noise and images, there is a certain clarity and a defiant urge for innovation that sustains the film and makes Galaxy a standout title in the overcrowded line-up of dreamscapes in the history of cinema.