Sadako (Masumi Harukawa), cursed by generations before her and neglected by her common-law husband, falls prey to a brutal home intruder. As a result, rather than become a victim, she forges a path to her own awakening. This disturbing and pitiless evocation of domestic drudgery and sexual violence is also a fascinating, unsentimental account of one woman’s determination. Filled with director Shohei Imamura’s characteristic flashbacks and dream sequences, Intentions of Murder is a gripping, audacious portrait of a woman coming into her own in a man’s world. —The Criterion Collection
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
This is the film I bought the box set for. Here Imamura strikes the perfect balance between anthropological exploration and emotion. Sadako is the perfect heroine, a complex character who is never turned into a victim. The black and white cinematography is some of the most jaw dropping I've seen, and his direction is a hypnotic flow of images. Gripping and complex, this film is a hidden treasure of Japanese cinema.