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In the Realm of Oshima

Saturday, June 13, 2009
6:30 p.m. The Catch
Nagisa Oshima (Japan, 1961)

New Print

(Shiiku). Oshima, in his first independent production, brought to the screen Kenzaburo Oe’s story about the capture and eventual murder of a black American pilot by a farming community in rural Japan. It is the last summer of the war. In this peasant village, conflicts between farmers and refugees from bombed-out cities are brought to a head with the arrival, by parachute, of a black G.I. One more mouth to feed, he becomes a political bargaining tool in a variety of power struggles within the community. In a twist of logic, his elimination becomes the way to resolve their bickering. Oe’s contemporary folk tale was a cruel parable on xenophobia. There is a striking emphasis on the presence of the next generation at the communal crimes of the villagers. In capturing the loneliness of one boy, whose age Oshima would have been, Oshima turned his adaptation into a highly personal film.

• Written by Takeshi Tamura, Toshio Matsumoto, Toshiro Ishido, Shomei Tomatsu, based on the story by Kenzaburo Oe. Photographed by Yoshitsugu Tonegawa. With Rentaro Mikuni, Sadako Sawamura, Hugh Hurd, Eiko Oshima. (97 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W, ’Scope, 35mm, From Kawakita Memorial Film Institute, permission Oshima Productions)