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In the Realm of Oshima

Thursday, June 4, 2009
8:50 p.m. Three Resurrected Drunkards
Nagisa Oshima (Japan, 1968)

New Print


(Kaetta kita yopparai). “I never make films in the same style,” Oshima wrote, and he proves it in this wildly color-splashed CinemaScope lark, rocket-fueled with the runaway teenage spirit of A Hard Day’s Night and the anti-authoritarian, antiwar fury of 1968. Three Resurrected Drunkards follows three students (including Kazuhiko Kato from the influential Sadistic Mika Band) as they play war games (such as mimicking the infamous street-execution photo from the Vietnam War) along an empty beach, only to find their school uniforms stolen by Korean stowaways, who, in one of the film’s multiple reality-versus-fantasy dialectics, are actually dodging the Vietnam War. The three then begin a chase that never ends, in which Japanese is Korean, Korean Japanese, and nothing is as it seems; when they get to one finish line, Oshima promptly “resurrects” the film again. Watching Three Resurrected Drunkards is like watching Frank Tashlin remake Oshima; commentary on Japan’s war crimes, its anti-Korean prejudices, Vietnam, and sexual liberation is delivered in a stunningly inventive widescreen bubblegum palette.

Three Resurrected Drunkards is repeated on Thursday, June 25.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Tsutomu Tamura, Mamoru Sasaki, Masao Adachi, Oshima. Photographed by Yasuhiro Yoshioka. With Kazuhiko Kato, Osamu Kitayama, Norihiko Hashida, Kei Sato. (80 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From The Japan Foundation, permission Janus/Criterion Collection)