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Dogura magura (1988)

A young man kills his bride on the day of his marriage and goes insane. He wakes up in an asylum with no memory, left in the hands of two mysterious doctors who relate his condition with his biological identity.


Toshio Matsumoto




Cast overview:
Yôji Matsuda Yôji Matsuda ... Kure Ichiro
Shijaku Katsura Shijaku Katsura ... Prof. Masaki
Hideo Murota Hideo Murota ... Prof. Wakabayashi
Eri Misawa Eri Misawa ... Moyoko
Kyôko Enami Kyôko Enami ... Yayako
Hidekazu Nagae Hidekazu Nagae


A man is confined to a mental institution after trying to murder his fiancee. Two doctors relate his problem to an Asian philosophy that states that mental defects are transmitted from generation to generation. He learns that one of his distant ancestors murdered his wife as a way of demonstrating a point to his lord about the importance of love over the emptiness of lust and to drive home the point further, created a series of illustrations of the dead woman decaying which in turn trigger the memories of his distant descendent. But is the whole thing merely a game concocted by the two doctors, who may even have driven themselves mad? Written by Serdar Yegulalp <serdar@thegline.com>

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Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi

User Reviews

Dogra Magra (1988)
18 April 2015 | by mevmijaumauSee all my reviews

Just when you thought you've seen the weirdest stuff there is, you encounter Dogra Magra, an anti-chronological murder mystery surrealist mindf*ckery inexplicably named after an obscure Christian cult's chant for no apparent reason. Dogra Magra was adapted from the novel by Yumeno Kyusaku (this pen name means "The Person Who Always Dreams"), sometimes referred to as the Japanese H. P. Lovecraft. This is the final film directed by Toshio Matsumoto, a legendary underground film figure whose films were ground-breaking and revolutionary for their time, but sadly he's completely obscure outside of Japan.

Dogra Magra is a story about a young man, Ichiro Kure, who wakes up in an asylum cell with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Two questionably sane doctors take competitive turns at studying his condition and making him even more confused than he previously was. They connect his problem to his Chinese ancestor who killed his wife and painted her decomposing body, and they believe Ichiro did the same with his bride on their wedding day. Ichiro is basically a metaphor for Japanese youth, or, more specifically, Japan itself. Both inherited cultural and historical heritage from China and both are faced with an identity crisis.

One interesting thing about the narrative is that the film provides no context in the beginning as the audience is left just as clueless as Ichiro. With every new plot twist, every new revelation provided by the two doctors, the viewer grows more and more confused and starts wondering is there even a solution to this absurd puzzle. Most of the film is very talky and dialogue-driven with plenty of flashbacks, so you need to pay REALLY close attention to catch everything that's going on. The final scene, when Ichiro tries to escape from the asylum, is just bat-sh*t insane although fairly normal for Matsumoto's standards.

Dogra Magra takes place in the 1920s and the movie is painted in nostalgic shades of green and yellow to accompany the Taisho era. However, the green/yellow tint is present only in "present-time" scenes, while the flashbacks and such are mostly colored in bright red or blue, and the color palette is always interesting. The flashbacks to Ichiro's Chinese ancestor are filmed with puppets and strange lighting. Throughout the film, images of Buddha, fetuses and a solar eclipse are used, for what reason, I do not know.

My advice to people who want to watch it is that you pay close attention and don't let yourself get confused by the film because it's really easy to get so. Oh, and by the way, that poster is seriously strange.

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Release Date:

15 October 1988 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Dogura magura See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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