On the eve of the Meiji Restoration, the cataclysmic upheaval which ended Japan’s Tokugawa Shogunate, Genji returns from six years in America, only to find the life he had known irretrievably lost, his young wife sold into prostitution. Discovering her in sleazy East Ryogoku, Genji is drawn into the underworld in which she lives. Strife among the ruling parties spreads throughout the city, and the people begin to riot, shouting “Eijanaika!” (“Why not?!!” or “What the hell!”) as they loot the storehouse of wealthy merchants. As troops advance on the rioting mob, Genji, now an agitator planted by the Satsuma clan, is among them, stirring their anger. –Inbaseline
Shohei Imamura’s ribald, darkly comic films about messy human relationships and coarse, indomitable women repelled early European critics who had grown to cherish the graceful, exotic image of Japan typified by Kenji Mizoguchi films. Yet Imamura remains a critically important director, both as one of the seminal Japanese New Wave directors (along with Nagisa Oshima and Masahiro Shinoda) and as a chronicler of a side of Japan rarely seen in Mizoguchi movies or tourist brochures.
Born in 1926, in Tokyo, Imamura attended the elite elementary and middle schools that normally would have aimed him toward a prestigious university degree and a comfortable career in business or government. His love of theater and loathing of bourgeois presumptions, however, steered him away from a conventional lifestyle. When he failed the entrance exam for the agriculture program at the national university in Hokkaido, he enrolled in a technical school to evade the draft. The day the Pacific War ended… read more