“Some have seriously asked themselves if they were part of the Revolution or if they just made films. For me, the two are one and the same thing,” says the great Japanese auteur Masao Adachi in “It May Be That Beauty Has Reinforced Our Resolve,” the French filmmaker Philippe Grandrieux’s subtitled 2011 cinematic portrait of him. Grandrieux’s title, which comes from a freedom fighter’s words in Adachi’s 2007 film “Prisoner/Terrorist,” encapsulates Adachi’s lifelong conviction that making art is a form of political action. Both films will screen in the Harvard Film Archive’s retrospective “Film = Activism. The Revolutionary Underground Cinema of Masao Adachi,” running Friday through March 4.
Adachi was born in 1939 to a peasant mother who taught him that the emperor was to blame for Japan’s involvement in World War II, and for the related problems that followed. As a university student in Tokyo, he protested against the 1960 signing of the United States-Japan Security Treaty, which allowed US military bases to operate on his home soil.