History Of Postwar Japan As Told By A Bar Hostess (Shohei Imamura, 1970) **
I was looking forward to following up my small Imamura retrospective with the 3-hour long THE PROFOUND DESIRE OF THE GODS (1968), but I had to abort my VHS viewing after the first 10 minutes because the tape was mangled (which, had I been aware of it, I would certainly have rerecorded the film when it turned up again recently during the "After Hours" programme on Italian TV)! In this respect, I have to agree with Michael Elliott's preference of DVD to VHS as one need only turn over the disc to know if it's scratched or not, but with VHS you cannot know beforehand in what state the tape is going to be!!
So, I had to make do with the next entry in the Imamura canon that I had scheduled to watch. Well, it turned out to be as dreary and unappetizing as the film's very title would suggest, treating as it does events which would mostly only be familiar to Japanese people anyway. As a matter of fact, only the various scenes of military conflict and political turmoil held some measure of interest for me; indeed, the picture comes off as a very tedious whole, demonstrating that few film-makers can successfully make the leap into the field of documentary (and, frankly, only Werner Herzog comes to mind at the moment).
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