A Japanese film director is shaking the Cannes Film Festival audience to the bone with her dystopian vision of a country where the elderly agree to euthanasia in order to solve the problem of rapid aging.
Japanese director and writer Chie Hayakawa’s “Plan 75” is based on a very real problem.
Japan is an industrial society that is aging the fastest, and it is a trend that causes enormous economic and political problems as it has to support the aging military, which is increasing due to a decrease in the young population.
About 30% of Japan’s population is over the age of 65 and the majority are women, and the proportion is expected to continue to increase in the coming decades.
In the film, everyone over the age of 75 is encouraged to sign a deal with the government where they receive a certain amount of money in exchange for consenting to euthanasia. Group funerals are free.
Sleek advertising campaigns and calls from people with soft voices are part of the effort to get people to sign up. Handsome advisors list the little pleasures the candidate can afford with money. “You can go to a restaurant,” says one person.
“The government’s Plan 75 is outwardly full of goodwill, kindness and pragmatism,” Hayakawa told AFP. “It’s actually very cruel and shameful.”
“The aging of the population is not a recent problem,” she said. “I always hear people discussing it,” he said.
“When I was young, longevity was considered a good thing, and people respected older people. Not anymore,” added the 45-year-old bishop.
‘Cold and cruel’
Hayakawa’s first feature film, ‘Plan 75’, is full of slow sequences with minimal camera movement.
“I wanted the image to be as aesthetic and beautiful as the plan itself, cold and brutal,” she said.
When asked how close her scenario is to today’s Japanese reality, Hayakawa quickly replied “8 out of 10”.
She said she interviewed seniors as part of her research for the film and found that many people had found merit in the idea of buying financial collateral they were willing to end their lives with.
“It will relieve the stress of thinking about how to survive when you are alone. It is very reassuring to choose the moment and method of their death.”
She said this approach will also benefit the younger generation.
“If such a plan had been on the table today, I believe many would embrace it and welcome it as a viable solution,” she said.
“Most young people are already worried about the end of their lives. Will their basic needs be met? Can they survive once lived? Can they afford to grow old?” She said.
Instead of blaming the government, Hayakawa said that many young people are outraged by the elderly.
“It’s frustrating and upsetting because you work so hard to support the elderly, but you don’t think there will be anyone to support you when it’s your turn,” she said.
“What worries me a lot is that we are in a social reality that highly favors such radical solutions,” she said. “scary.”
Hayakawa said she didn’t assume her films offered a solution to dealing with the age crisis. “But an honest assessment of where we are today will already be an important step,” she said.