A Japanese film reportedly devastated audiences at the Cannes Film Festival with its poetic depiction of a dystopian solution to Japan’s aging population†
Written and directed by Chie Hayakawa, “Plan 75” is set in an alternative Japan, where citizens aged 75 and over are given the opportunity — and strongly encouraged — to be euthanized for free.
Though reported as controversial, the policy is widely accepted in a society that prides itself on its “history of sacrifice.” As part of the agreement, applicants will receive $1,000 to spend at their discretion.
“On the surface, the government’s Plan 75 is full of goodwill, kindness and pragmatism,” Hayakawa said. AFP† “But in reality it is both very cruel and shameful.”
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The film follows three main characters who live in extraordinary circumstances: Michi (Chieko Baisho), a 78-year-old hotel maid who finds happiness in small things – until she is fired; Hiromu (Hayato Isomura), a young Plan 75 agent who comes to his senses when he contacts his older uncle; and Maria (Stefanie Arianna Akashi), a Filipina who starts out as an aged care worker, until her daughter’s declining health forces her to join Plan 75 for better pay.
Hayakawa acknowledged that the aging of Japan’s population is not a recent problem. However, she was inspired to work on the film after the 2016 Sagamihara stabbing in which a 26-year-old man stabbed at a disability care facility, leaving 19 dead and 26 others injured.
“I was furious and thought, if Japan accelerated this path of intolerance, what would it look like?” Hayakawa told The Hollywood Reporter†
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While developing the film, Hayakawa interviewed 15 elderly Japanese women, all of whom said they would consider applying for Plan 75 if it actually existed. Their reason: “They don’t want to be a burden.”
For all its grotesque premise, “Plan 75” deviates from expectations of a “futuristic sci-fi” aesthetic. Instead, it takes on a more realistic style of cinematography, effectively evoking a sense of urgency as the story unfolds as “an extension of our real world today,” Hayakawa said.
At present, about 30 percent of Japan’s population is over 65 years of age, according to AFP. This fraction is expect to accelerate In the years to come.
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“What worries me a lot is that we are in a social reality that would greatly promote such a radical solution,” Hayakawa told the outlet. “It is scary.”
Featured image via The following
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