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In the Realm of Oshima

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
7:30 p.m. Violence at Noon
Nagisa Oshima (Japan, 1966)

New Print


(Hakuchu no torima). In investigating the case history of a sex criminal, Oshima creates one of his most effective crime films while, as always, radically transcending the genre. The story unfolds through the recollections of two women—the rapist’s wife and one of his victims—strangely united in an effort to protect him from capture. With highly effective editing, Oshima focuses on the relationship between the women, one of whom has tried to commit suicide, while the other will eventually succeed. Their despair is linked to that of the rapist himself, and both, to the failure of the socialist movement in immediate postwar Japan (the film opens with the collapse of a collective farm, after which the true believers either kill themselves or return to primitively destructive ways). More than any other Japanese director, Oshima demonstrates the ways in which the compulsion to crime and self-destruction reflects the pathology of the society in which the criminal/victim lives.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Tsutomu Tamura, based on a story by Taijun Takeda. Photographed by Akira Takada. With Saeda Kawaguchi, Akiko Koyama, Kei Sato, Mutsuhiro Toura. (99 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W, ’Scope, 35mm, From Janus/Criterion Collection)