Putting the Japanese in the picture
No 153: POLAROID
It starts with a sweeping overhead of a spaghetti junction - speeded up - and a cut to a view of a fish pool with lots of orange carp looking much the same. Then back to the junction and (another familiar shot) we sweep to the side of a high-rise block - very Eighties, very mirrored - zooming in to a window where a young man and a stern-looking bespectacled woman seem to be arguing. Once inside the office it's obvious she's telling him off, maybe even sacking him.
The boy walks off through a large open-plan office, through a group of office ladies, gets his Polaroid camera from his work-space and takes it into the gents. There's an indicative flash, then he stuffs a photograph into an envelope, walks back through the pool - with the secretaries watching curiously - and puts the envelope into a staff pigeon-hole.
Then we go into a lot of narrative cross-cutting: the boy at the seen- it-before Japanese underground station, paralleled with the office postman sorting the mail at the pigeon-holes; followed by some wistful looks out of the train window, and the postman distributing mail; another familiar shot of massed Japanese commuters on their way to work; then the train leaves the city as the Lady Boss gets her mail - but we don't get to see what's in the Polaroid. Finally, there's our boy on the train, with a naughty grin.
Photo-essays on the robotic aspects of Japanese mass working-life were popular in artistic circles in the Eighties. Japan itself was fashionable then, but went out when the long Japanese recession started - these things are linked. But it's still a nice foil for the Polaroid "live for the moment" statement when you're targeting younger users.
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