What is Obscene? Oshima and His Films Offer the Answer

Nagisa Oshima movies: From Death by Hanging to Taboo [See previous post: "Nagisa Oshima: In the Realm of the Senses (Truly) Iconoclastic Filmmaker Dies."] Among Nagisa Oshima’s other seminal works are Death by Hanging (1968); and the Cannes Film Festival entries Empire of Passion (1978), Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983), Max Mon Amour (1986), and Taboo (1999), which turned out to be Oshima’s last effort. With the exception of Max Mon Amour, the Cannes titles were also nominated for multiple Japanese Academy Awards, including Best Picture. (Photo: Nagisa Oshima.) Much like In the Realm of the Senses, Death by Hanging was inspired by a real-life incident: the botched hanging of a young Korean man convicted of rape and murder. In Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, David Bowie plays a World War II prisoner of war who has a complex Billy Budd-like — desire/hate — relationship with a Japanese captain (played by rock star Ryuichi Sakamoto, who also composed the film’s score). Despite its title and the presence of Tatsuya Fuji,
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