Oil Hell Murder / Onna goroshi abura no jigoku (1992)

In what would sadly be his last movie before his death in 1992, Gosha turned to Chikamatsu for inspiration. Working from the last screenplay of the great Masato Ide, who had died several years before the film went into production, the movie shifted the focus of Chikamatsu's original to a woman who, though the murder … Continue reading Oil Hell Murder / Onna goroshi abura no jigoku (1992)

Childhood Days / Takeshi (1990)

In the fall of 1944, young Shinji is sent to stay with his uncle's family in the country, while his father, a government bureaucrat, prepares for the Tokyo bombings he knows will come soon. In his new home, Shinji meets Takeshi, the “class captain” and general top dog in the school. Over the next year, … Continue reading Childhood Days / Takeshi (1990)

MacArthur’s Children / Setouchi shonen yakyu dan (1984)

Most of the movies made about the Occupation after the Occupation officially ended in 1952 have looked back through the eyes of the yakuza. MacArthur’s Children, however, views the early years of the Occupation through the experience of three fifth-graders on a tiny island in the Inland Sea. It is a view in which the … Continue reading MacArthur’s Children / Setouchi shonen yakyu dan (1984)

Double Suicide at Sonezaki / Sonezaki shinju (1978)

The love suicide has permeated Japanese popular culture, almost as significant a subject as seppuku itself.* Chikamatsu’s Double Suicide at Sonezaki was one of the major drivers in the subject's popularity, as it was the first play (initially for bunraku then later Kabuki) in which both lovers were commoners. Given its immense popularity on stage … Continue reading Double Suicide at Sonezaki / Sonezaki shinju (1978)

Ballad of Orin / Banished Orin / Hanare goze Orin (1977)

Shinoda’s Ballad of Orin is a visually beautiful reconstruction of a vanished way of life in rural Japan, told through the story of a traveling singer Orin and of Tsurukawa, the man who becomes her companion and true love. This places us solidly in Mizoguchi territory with a heroine with a thwarted romance trapped by … Continue reading Ballad of Orin / Banished Orin / Hanare goze Orin (1977)