A journalist interviews an old woman who was forced into prostitution, just like many other Japanese women working in Asia outside of Japan during the first half of the 20th century. She worked in a Malaysian brothel called Sandakan 8.
Near a remote Buddhist monastery, a young man falls in love with his sister and gets her pregnant. After a monk finds out, the young man becomes an assistant to a master sculptor, only to proceed to complicate matters with his affairs.
Years after the death of legendary tea master Rikyu, his disciple Honkakubo attempts to resolve the mystery of the master's death. Years before: Sen Rikyu is a ceremonial tea master who ... See full summary »
Three Japanese pilgrims arrive in India. Miss Naruse is looking for Otsu, a Catholic priest, her lover ten years before; after time in France and Israel, he has come to Benares where he ... See full summary »
Lung, a former member of the national Little League team and now operator of an old-style fabric business, is never able to shake a longing for his past glory. One day, he runs into a forme... See full summary »
Renko, a girl in the sixth grade, is at first unperturbed by her parents' decision to separate. With the companionship of her boyfriend, Minoru, and Sally, a classmate in the same boat, ... See full summary »
The Sea and Poison is an excellent WWII film, and probably one of the best Japanese war films at that. It's based on Shusaku Endo's famous novel and directed by Kei Kumai, featuring some well-known Japanese actors like Ken Watanabe and Kyoko Kishida. The core of the story is an actual event where several Japanese surgeons vivisected downed American fliers. It was apparently a very controversial topic at the time the film was made (along with the more infamous Unit 731, which saw Japanese doctors and scientists committing unspeakable war cruelties), and in fact, the film took years to make because no major studio would touch it.
The film is basically a morality tale where we follow several doctors, the principal two of which have conflicting philosophies; one is cynical and opportunistic, while the other one is emphatic, but nevertheless takes part in the horrific operations. The story is very gripping and intense, laid out in flashback form. The performances are believable and the atmosphere is very dark and clinical. Some bilingual characters have random shifts between languages at unusual points which I found kinda weird, but oh well.
The two surgery scenes are without a doubt the best parts of the movie. Stunningly directed, very suspenseful and very realistic. The effects are very striking and I'm glad this film was shot in B&W because otherwise it would be too uncomfortably bloody. Speaking of that, it's surprising to know this film was made in 1986 because it seems much older, not only because of Taizo Matsumura's orchestral soundtrack but also because of the black and white photography. Some images from the film are very memorable, like the few overhead shots or the shadow play inside the clinic.
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