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.
Mr. Ogata lives a complicated life: he is a pornographer making two skin flicks per day and trying to stay beneath the radar screen of the local mob; he deeply loves his ailing wife Haru who's cursed by the restless spirit of her dead first husband; he also has a mistress, a step-son who wants to go to university, and a step-daughter entering adolescence. He lusts after his step-daughter, and when Haru finds out about those sexual advances, she asks him to marry the girl. Haru even signs over her business to him, and a crisis ensues when Ogata uses her nest egg to buy equipment so he and his pals can set up their own film processing lab. Surreal images and events weave their way into Ogata's life.Written by
Saw this film in a wonderful class on Japanese new wave cinema (thanks, Jyotsna). Along with Imamura's "Ballad of Narayama," some of the finest Japanese work I've seen. This film is brilliant in its portrayal of modern voyeurism and its psychological implications. Beyond that though, it stands out as a film preparing us for things to come in the cinema of the 90's. It took pt Anderson's "magnolia" to finally bring full circle some of the innovative qualities of this truly amazing film. Note the merging of the wonderful score and the main character's consciousness at the end of the film. Shocking, sad, and beautiful.
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