Suzuki is generally known for his outrageous, eye-popping imagery. I think his films actually contain a lot of depth and are great besides that imagery, but I know it's the visuals that bring him his fame. This film, independently produced after a long hiatus from film-making, is a different kind of Suzuki. A VERY different Suzuki. Zigeunerweisen, named after a musical composition that plays a couple of times during the film and a record of which plays an important part of the plot, is a rather slowly paced art film, a very long one at that, with an almost European feeling. There are a few striking images in its two and a half hours (most notably a woman licking a man's eyeball), but it isn't the phantasmagoria of Suzuki's earlier films, or his later films. The dialogue is often weird and poetic. My favorite line was "You caress me as if sucking my very bones." The film takes place during the Taisho period, which occurred after the Meiji Restoration during the 20s and 30s. It is a period marked by further Westernization and a loss of traditional values (I might be wrong, but I think Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses is set during the same period). The story involves two friends, a professor and a vagabond, and their relationships with their wives, as well as a geisha they once met on a vacation. There isn't too much story, per se. The vagabond marries a woman who looks identical to the geisha, but doesn't stay faithful, or even at home. The film is mostly told from the point of view of the professor (played by Toshiya Fujita, the director of Lady Snowblood). Like I said, the film is very deliberately paced. It was hard to stay interested at times. But the movie moves toward a mysterious and haunting finale. I don't think I get it, but I found the whole film intriguing, at least. Not my favorite Suzuki by a long shot, but maybe I'll understand it better on a subsequent viewing (which probably won't happen for a long while).
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