Uzumasa Limelight

Lisa Chen

Village East Cinema: the twilight show of Uzumasa Limelight.

I lean into the swinging door of Theater 3. The room swooshes open,

empty as a toothless mouth. I am inside a secret. The hero

in the film is a kirare-yaku: his purpose is to die in sword fights

in the movies. He has died some 50,000 times.

The art of dying in samurai movies is dying.

Every samurai movie ever made is about the dying of the samurai way.

Our hero’s signature move is the prawn: sliced open by a foe,

he arches his back, his face a rictus of anguish the camera can capture.

How wonderfully he dies! Movies are dying. The actor

who plays the kirare-yaku is one in real life. He is old but strong,

like femurs of driftwood. In an interview he is asked,

Is there a most memorable role? No, he thinks not.

All of them count, even the ones he appears on the edge of the screen.

I’ve always given every death my 100 percent. The deer brought down

by its predator gazes upon its ruined haunches with a stillness.

It is almost impersonal, how it discovers its fate. So I be the one.

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