7 user 34 critic

The Insect Woman (1963)

Nippon konchûki (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 30 June 1964 (USA)
Life story of a woman born in poverty trying to succeed. Through her many schemes, she faces her ups and downs in a cyclical nature, fueled mostly by self-interest.


Shôhei Imamura
12 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Emiko Aizawa Emiko Aizawa ... Rui
Setsuko Amamiya Setsuko Amamiya
Tomio Aoki
Tomoko Aoyagi Tomoko Aoyagi
Emiko Azuma Emiko Azuma ... Kane
Hyôe Enoki Hyôe Enoki
Kazuko Fujii Kazuko Fujii
Makiko Fujisawa Makiko Fujisawa
Makiko Fukamachi Makiko Fukamachi
Masumi Harukawa ... Midori
Yûzô Harumi Yûzô Harumi
Sachiko Hidari ... Tome Matsuki
Jôji Hidehara Jôji Hidehara
Daisaburô Hirata Daisaburô Hirata ... Kamibayashi
Jirô Hiratsuka Jirô Hiratsuka


Amorality in Japan. Tome is born into poverty in rural Japan, in the late 1910s. Chuji, her father, dotes on her; her mother is less faithful. Tome becomes a neighbor's mistress, works at his mill as World War II rages, and has a daughter. After an affair with a mill supervisor, Tome goes to Tokyo to seek her fortune. She leaves the child, Nobuko, in Chuji's care. Tome's a maid at a brothel, learns trade from the madam, enjoys the protection of a businessman whose mistress she becomes, and is soon herself the boss. As Chuji ages and Nobuko grows up with her own ideas, can Tome's self-preserving schemes provide continued comfort? Or will the mice scamper over her? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


She lives by instinct with no sense of right or wrong. See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #473. See more »


Featured in Century of Cinema: 100 Years of Japanese Cinema (1995) See more »

User Reviews

Underclass Exploitation and Dehumanization.
23 April 2016 | by net_ordersSee all my reviews

Viewed on DVD. No, this is not a horror movie; just a horrible movie! Director Shôhei Imamura again documents his obsession with the sex lives of those at the bottom of Japan's social-economic food chain. In doing so, he promotes several old/new stereotypes: sex workers as role models for survival (a riff on prostitutes with hearts of gold?); the poor and ignorant being no better than insects; migrants from rural to urban environments cause big-city degeneracy because they bring it with them; etc. Pushing the boundaries of contemporary censorship (that would all but evaporate in a few years), Imamura tries his hand (and hopes to broaden his film's paying audience?) at soft porn with: simulated sex (partially hidden with poorly lit scenes); strongly-implied sex between daughter and father; adult breast feeding; etc. The film is also loopy: each succeeding generation repeats the same life process; many instances of a Capella singing with nonsense lyrics on the sound track; the opening scenes of an insert struggling to climb an incline and the closing scenes of the heroine struggling to climb a hill; etc. The net result is that the movie goes in a circle and, hence, nowhere (and also seems to stop abruptly). Acting is uneven due to an inferior script (or an over abundance of on-set improvisation?). Line readings range from grunts to micro "proverbs." Cinematography (wide screen, black and white) is hard to judge, since interior scenes are often poorly lit or not lit at all. Editing includes random bouts of freeze framing (often accompanied by comments that may be expository or just nonsense). Film music is somewhat spastic. Translations of line readings are usually close enough. Japanese film making at its worse (or darn close to it!). WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.

6 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 7 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

30 June 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Insect See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Nikkatsu See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed