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Nagisa Oshima (1932 - )

Related: Japanese cinema - director - In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

Oshima belongs to the radical school of Jean-Luc Godard and Dusan Makavejev, "a product of the clash between surviving folk traditions, feudalism, industrialization and Westernization." --Magill

"Nagisa Oshima is my master, seeing his films showed me that I was working in the right direction. He pushes his characters to the edge of the abyss." In particular, Breillat has been inspired by Oshima's 1976 Cannes prizewinner In the Realm of the Senses, not least because its unprecedentedly graphic scenes of sexual passion stirred up censorship rows and watch committees across the world [...] --Catherine Breillat quoted in the Telegraph, July 2003.


Nagisa ?shima (born March 31, 1932) is a famous Japanese director. After graduating from Kyoto University he was hired by Shochiku Ltd. and quickly progressed to directing his own movies, making his debut feature A Street of Love and Hope (Ai to kibo no machi) in 1959.

Oshima, born in Kyoto, is most famed for his provocative 1976 film Ai no korida (In the Realm of the Senses), a film based on a true story of fatal sexual obsession in 1930s Japan. Oshima, a prolific critic of censorship and his contemporary Akira Kurosawa's humanism, was determined that the film should feature hardcore pornography and thus the film's undeveloped film cans had to be transported to France to be developed and an uncensored version of the movie is still unavailable in Japan.

In his 1978 companion film to Ai no corrida, Ai no borei, Oshima took a more restrained approach to depicting the sexual passions of the two lovers driven to murder, and the film won the 1978 Cannes Film Festival award for best director.

In 1996 Oshima suffered a stroke, but he returned to directing in 1999 with the period piece Taboo (Gohatto). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagisa_Oshima [2004]

Oshima and Dauman

Nagisa Oshima with Anatole Dauman on two occasions: In the Realm of the Senses and Empire of Passion. Their collaboration is well documented at Senses of cinema.[Jul 2006]

Koshikei/Death by Hanging (1968) - Nagisa Oshima

(Nagisa Oshima, Japan, 1968) (F)

A bizarre and alien masterpiece by an indefatigable experimentor, based on a true story of a Korean unjustlyaccused of murder and rape and subsequently executed. This is a brilliantly achieved expressionist drama, during which the condemned man ironically must be executed twice and the police, re-enacting his crime to convince him of his guilt, are carried away by their role-playing into committing a second rape and murder. It is an extraordinary study of personal identity and social guilt, of reality and illusion, of the law's need for crime to exist and of capital punishment as the supreme crime. The work, while reminiscent of Commedia dell'Arte and of Brecht, emerges as possibly the most genuinely Japanese work to be seen in the West.

In a Brechtian sequence, the police, attempting to convince the condemned man of his guilt, re-enact his crime with such gusto that they actually commit it; subversive proof that law needs crime to exist. The policeman, exhibiting the fear of the criminal caught in the act, already seems incarcerated by the composition, but is unable to remove his incriminating hand from the suddenly desired object. The positioning of the woman's body is visually provocative. --Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

Tokyo Senso Sengo Hiwa/The man who left his will on film (1970) - Nagisa Oshima

    Aesthetic and political rebel, Oshima is one of the most original directors now working in Japan. This is a metaphysical tale of a radical student filmmaker who succumbs to the illusion that he has committed suicide and left a film as his testament. Attempting to "decipher" this film and the "dead man's" life, he rapes his own girl (who plays along with the illusion to cure him) and retraces the "other man's" life by means of the film, only to find himself in his own birthplace. The film testament proves incomprehensible. He therefore refilms it, intending to create a work superior to that of his illusory rival; but his girl, to save him, willfully interrupts and changes each scene. He finally realizes that he must kill the dead man -- himself -- in order to be free. Several key episodes, including sex scenes, are recreated by the protagonists in front of a screen showing the film testament so that they are projected onto their bodies. Throughout, the style is meticulously realistic, meticulously metaphysical. --Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

Shonen/Boy (1969) - Nagisa Oshima

(Nagisa Oshima, Japan, 1969) (F)
Brechtian devices and the modern avant-garde merge in an icy, terrifying con-game based on a true incident in which a boy is forced by his parents to throw himself in the path of auto- mobiles so they can blackmail the driver. Cars and materialism are viewed as part of a much deplored Americanization of Japan. --Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

Shinjuku Dorobo Nikki/Diary of a Shinjuku Burglar (1968/69) - Nagisa Oshima

A grotesque, erotic, ultimately phantasmagorical avant- garde work, in which a young couple engage in a bizarre search for sexual ecstasy, while Tokyo explodes in student riots. In several scenes, cinematic taboos are casually dispensed with: the capitalist wiping his hand after fon- dling his secretary, the thief who almost ejaculates while shoplifting, the couple walking down a night-lit Tokyo street with a dildo swinging from a string between them, until she, imploring, lies down on the pavement for him. --Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

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