- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Journey to Mt. Fuji

Also known as:

Year: 2014

Genre: Independent / Sci-fi / Experimental / Drama

Language: English / French / Japanese

Runtime: 80 min

Director: Cris Ubermann

Writer: Yukita Kusunoki


Mozzman, a strange alien man-like being with silver skin, takes a journey to Mt. Fuji to save his friend Kitakitsune. On his journey he starts puzzling together pieces of long forgotten memories.

Our thoughts:
"Journey to Mt. Fuji" is one of the few long features at the Viewster Online Film Festival, and one of the films I was most looking forward to watching since the festival started. I probably wouldn't be lying if I said that this perhaps is the feature film of the festival which draws inspiration from the most different places. Whether this is a good or bad thing is up to the viewer, but you can see that the filmmakers were rather ambitious with their vision. Going through elements of sci-fi, arthouse drama, silent movies, experimental art, comedy and musicals (and possibly missing to mention some), you can't deny that the movie is busy. But does it add much good to its experience, or does it become a drawback?

It's easy to explain the movie's plot if you're being shallow about it, which I will have to be. It's about an alien visitor's philosophical journey to Mt. Fuji to save a friend. When you go beyond that, there's a ton of things going on and many questions to follow. Frankly, there aren't many answers in the movie. This alien, Mozzman, goes on his journey while memories, meetings, various situations are displayed in front of us, making us question who Mozzman is - or is said to be. It's a long journey, but unlike what the title suggests, it's not just about the walking. Unfortunately, personally, I thought there was more to keep me hooked in the scenes of him walking than of many of the experimental trips we're being thrown.

The movie is really busy and goes a long way to be experimental in almost each and every frame, but rather than keeping me in awe for the visual presentation I felt sort of bored. It seemed like too much shown while not saying a whole lot. I don't doubt that the filmmakers have things to say, they're bound to be with such a large movie in their hands, but little of it is delivered. It stumbles across its ideas, seemingly more focused on being strange and experimental than inviting us to the journey.

Granted, I couldn't get into "Journey to Mt. Fuji", but I have to admire its spirit and the unconventional core of the movie. It's just a shame that the result comes off as rather sloppy by forcing too much into it. There could very well be an idea in it, but when characters mostly seem to speak nonsense it quickly appears as if they didn't really know what to say - rather just that they wanted to imply there was depth behind everything. I won't question those who found much in this to take to heart, unfortunately I am not one of them.

I won't leave this "Journey to Mt. Fuji" review on a too negative of a note, there's plenty of that above. There is an admirably amount of work put into it and it's always comforting seeing filmmakers do their own thing. It makes me feel like there's hope in filmmaking still, whether or not every attempt is successful or not. Not to mention that within all of the ideas there are plenty of great shots which have been experimented together to achieve a rather unreal atmosphere. "Journey to Mt. Fuji" could very well be exactly what someone wants and needs, and hopefully they can get more out of it than I did. My personal opinion remains that it's a bunch of ideas thrown into a mixer, making the end result thick with color but none of them matching each other. The movie jumps from dramatic and silly throughout and it all just seems confusing.

Positive things:
- Ambitious indie project.
- Mozzman had potential of being a rather interesting character, and at moments he was.

Negative things:
- A bit too busy without being able to pronounce everything it wants to say.
- Despite things happening constantly, it feels long and boring.

Gore: 0.5/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 2/5
Effects: 2/5
Comedy: 2/5

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