Friday, December 5, 2008
Nagisa Oshima (Japan, 1969)
(Shonen). At once dreamlike and punishingly direct, Boy is the story of parents who habitually send their son into the street to be grazed by oncoming cars in order to wrest payment from the drivers. In this way, the itinerant family makes a living. It’s a fantastic tale, based on a true incident. Oshima is never one for sentiment, and he does not disappoint even in a film built around a young boy and his baby brother. Inexorably, he takes us through the progressive desperation of a war-damaged father and an ambivalent stepmother who callously use each other and their children and call it love as they strive for a place in the postwar economy. The settings grow increasingly stark until a climax finds the boys cozily blanketed in snow. Oshima uses the avant-garde music of Hikaru Hayashi and an array of distancing devices to, paradoxically, draw us into this boy’s life.
• Written by Tsutomu Tamura. Photographed by Yasuhiro Yoshioka, Seizo Sengen. With Fumio Watanabe, Akiko Koyama, Tetsuo Abe, Tsuyoshi Kinoshita. (97 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)