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Eijanaika (1981)

Near the turbulent end of the Edo era, a man returning to Japan after exile in America searches for his wife and becomes swept up in the current of revolution in this incisive period drama from the great Shohei Imamura.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Ine
Shigeru Izumiya ...
Genji
Ken Ogata ...
Furukawa
Shigeru Tsuyuguchi ...
Kinzo
Masao Kusakari ...
Itoman
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ako ...
Oyoshi
Mitsuko Baishô ...
Oko
Junzaburô Ban ...
Toramatsu
Shôhei Hino ...
Magoshichi
Shino Ikenami ...
Yoshino
Etsuko Ikuta ...
Nui
Hiroshi Inuzuka ...
Roku
Chôichirô Kawarasaki ...
Nakazawa
Kazuo Kitamura ...
Koide
Nenji Kobayashi ...
Matakichi
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Storyline

Near the turbulent end of the Edo era, a man returning to Japan after exile in America searches for his wife and becomes swept up in the current of revolution in this incisive period drama from the great Shohei Imamura.

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Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

8 January 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aconteceu no Fim da Era Tokugawa  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

Eijanaika (1981)
2 March 2015 | by See all my reviews

EIJANAIKA (lit. "Why the hell not?", or "Oh, What the heck!") - an explosive title tying up an emotional roller-coaster of a movie. Also known under the title "Why Not?", this one-of-a-kind epic period film by Shohei Imamura lets you immediately know what you're getting into; as the first five minutes inexplicably feature a woman who can stretch her neck several meters in the air and a guy who can literally pop his eye sockets out. Imamura straight out informs you that he isn't interested in painting a traditional period film; his Eijanaika relates quite a few sub-plots and minor characters, with a dose of casual eroticism and humor.

Set during the short but turbulent time of the Edo era's downfall, the movie doesn't spend much time on the politics as it does on the equally as turbulent romance between Genji and Ine, a husband and wife whose unstable relationship is the major driving force behind the film. Unfortunately, the movie does kind of lose itself due to the overabundance of confusing sub-plot and similar side characters, which you'll often confuse, but one thing that can specifically hinder the enjoyment of a non-Japanese viewer are the inside references and various historical nuances that sort of got lost in translation. Imamura once said that he's interested in exploring the lower parts of society and lower parts of the human body in his movies; same goes for Eijanaika, where muddy, decrepit peasant shacks hide passionate outbursts between characters, while the entire Japanese society deals with the frenetic societal transition in the meantime.

One thing the movie doesn't do though is drag; there's always something new going on at every turn of the scene and it's all concluded with a huge, carnivalesque riot of people yelling a catchy "Eijanaika!" chant. This entire scene radiates with contagious positive energy and is naturally the high point of the entire film. In short, Eijanaika may be confusing to some people not accustomed to Imamura's work, and there's an abundance of side-plots, but personally I quite enjoyed it and that's what matters to me.


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