In a poor 19th century rural Japanese village, everyone who reaches the age of 70 has to climb a nearby mountain to die. An old woman is getting close to the cut-off age, and we follow her last days with her family.
In Yukosuka, many are able to benefit financially, legally and illegally, by the presence of the American naval base established after the war. Kinta, who is low level thug within the Himori yakuza, takes care of the yakuza's pig farm but provides some muscle in shaking down among others shopkeepers who cater and this benefit from the lucrative American military trade. Kinta is often asked to sacrifice himself for the yakuza, the promise being that the yakuza will ultimately recognize the sacrifice with bonuses and promotion within the organization. Kinta's girlfriend, Haruko, a barmaid, doesn't like his life and would prefer that they escape Yukosuka to Kawasaki where they could get jobs in her uncle's factory, something that Kinta continually resists in not wanting to be a "wage slave". Haruko is also continually pressured by her mother to prostitute herself, Mr. Gordon who is willing to pay top dollar to be his kept mistress. Kinta and Haruko's fates will be partly affected by the ...Written by
Shôhei Imamura's "Pigs and Battleships" is a very well crafted film. Despite this, it's a very unpleasant film and probably won't appeal to most viewers.
This film is set amid the social chaos that followed World War II in Japan. Now an occupied nation, poverty and crime are rampant. The film specifically focuses on the very lowest elements of society-- grifters, pimps, prostitutes and gangs. They are a uniformly disreputable group of people in the film--and because of that, it's very difficult to care in the least about these folks. And, because you don't really care about them, this makes the film do hard to enjoy. But this isn't necessarily a criticism--Imamura wanted to shock audiences and make social commentary about this as well as the country's ambivalence about having American troops in their land. On one hand, some folks admire the soldiers and think they are the greatest in the world, whereas others see them much like how hyenas view lions--they are just waiting to pick up their scraps. It's all very depressing and awful. The only bright spot is at the end. Following a crazy scene involving death, escaped pigs and total chaos are signs that perhaps ONE damaged soul might just make her escape. Bleak...but powerful.
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