I haven’t analyzed or thought about the movie very much, so hopefully others can help out. Here are some comments and questions off the top of my head:
1. For the most part, this film did a good job of carrying me along. I never really knew where it would go or how it would end, so I appreciated that aspect of the film.
2. I’m interested in hearing how people would characterize the film. In some ways, it seems to be a social satire/critique—criticizing class structures and relations, perhaps. In terms of tone, the film seemed to move between farce and serious drama (and that’s not a bad thing).
3. I’m interested in hearing about what people make of the Sadako character—especially her attitude towards sex and her relationship with the thief. On one hand, she seems repulsed by the thief and his advances (which makes sense), but she seems to submit to these advances and maybe even enjoy them. I don’t get the sense that this was done for comedic effect. The sense I get is that this type of depiction is something of the norm at the time. I’ve seen American films where the man forces himself on the woman, with the woman resisting and then finally submitting and ostensibly enjoying herself. I’m interested in to here what others thing.
I’m glad to see you’re making your way through that Imamura set, Jazz! Or have you already finished it?
In terms of tone, the film seemed to move between farce and serious drama
Imamura is the master of that! At least based on the five of his films that I’ve seen.
The sense I get is that this type of depiction is something of the norm at the time.
I think that it was the norm at the time, although I’m sure the many resident Japanese cinema experts we have here can deny or confirm that better than I. The dynamic is problematic to say the least, but I like the way Imamura treats it. In Sadako’s case, her unhappy marriage is basically an agreement that her husband can rape her any time he wants. So she submits to and desires the rapist because 1) submitting to men is all she knows and what she’s used to, and 2) he is an alternative to her husband, and breaks the monotony and bleakness of her existence.
I’m having a hard time saying anything coherent – have you read the Criterion essay on the film? It’s one of the best essays Criterion’s ever had in a booklet, IMO.
I still need to see Insect Woman.
1) submitting to men is all she knows and what she’s used to
You think Imamura intends this to be a critique?
and 2) he is an alternative to her husband, and breaks the monotony and bleakness of her existence.
So you think she does enjoy the sex and is somewhat attracted by the thief? Do you think Sadako is genuinely torn between staying with her family and running away with the thief? She seems more in earnest when expressing a desire for him to get out of her life, than for her to leave with him. Do you think that Imamura might be making fun of her indecision?
No, I haven’t read the essay. I’ll try to make time to read it.
Btw, fwiw, I did prefer this one over Pigs and Battleships.
i don’t think she has much of a choice here. society dictates she commit suicide or confess to her husband she’s having an affair! when she tries to do that he laughs at her, even while blatantly carrying on an affair himself. when the rapist tells her he’ll tell everyone, this is a threat because the rape will bring shame on her entire family. i did wonder why she didn’t let him die on the train instead of giving him the heart medicine (i would have), but she’s pregnant with his child by that point so this may explain it. i think she goes to great lengths to get rid of the guy and finally resigns herself, seeing a way to possibly escape her horrible existence. she’ll never be more than a servant to those people. i’m only halfway through the film but i had to comment on this. back later
spoilers: in fact her intention is to kill him all along. and a nice coincidence takes out the nosy librarian too. and her husband berates her for the affair he’s received evidence of from his own lover. she’s a little better off as it appears she will be acknowledged as the mother of her own child! i always enjoy imamura playing on double standard and hypocrisy and sprinkling black humor liberally over everything. our heroine may not be smart but our sympathy is entirely with her throughout. loved the snow scenes, bizarre angles, odd musical choices
So you think she does enjoy the sex and is somewhat attracted by the thief?
It depends on what you mean here – I think that she’s been so brainwashed and screwed up by society that she does enjoy it… or at least she thinks she does.
Do you think that Imamura might be making fun of her indecision?
Yes and no – Imamura is pointing out her condition with his trademark mixture of absurd black humor and serious issues. So I think that in many ways he is making fun of her, but you can’t deny that he also has empathy for her.
I loved the snow scenes and the music, too, Ruby! Let’s all talk about this one some more!!
i think one of imamura’s trademarks is that women are allowed to enjoy sex and she’s very earthy. this reminds me a lot of the pornographers. i’m not sure she’s attracted to the thief so much as attracted to his attraction for her, if that makes sense. however, she does plan to kill him the entire time, she just can’t do it and can’t kill herself either. the point is society has her in a bind; she’s to blame for the rape the same as if she’d had an affair. i’m gonna watch the special features on this and get some more clues
^ Had she been planning the murder the whole time? I definitely didn’t get that… maybe I need to watch it again.
But I like the idea of her being attracted to his attraction for her – that definitely does make sense.
At first I thought you were saying that she was to blame for the rape, Ruby! I was wondering if someone had hacked your account!!
no, society blames her. she definitely plans to kill him and then herself once they are far away. she talks about it repeatedly. and her family life is so fucked up, everyone treating her badly, even her own son is suspicious of her because of his father’s attitude. she is literally nothing more than a servant, living under the curse of a grandmother she never knew and tormented for something that isn’t her fault
hint: why is the film called intentions of murder? also sometimes known as unholy desire but according to wiki, the japanese title akai satsui translated literally is ‘red murderous intent’
lol I was a little confused about the title when I saw it! I guess it’s going on my rewatch list… good thing I’m putting my netflix on hold this month!!
oooh here’s a nice photo essay on the film
Thanks for the link, Ruby! It was a great essay.
And it had a screenshot of the pictures the kid draws! I loved those – they gave such a cool atmosphere to the house!
This one is pretty awesome, too:
yes there’s obvious psychic disturbance there lol ^
Ugh, I wish the movie wasn’t so hazy for me now. With that said, I’ll hazzard some responses.
Ruby said, _ our heroine may not be smart but our sympathy is entirely with her throughout._
She is rather simple-minded, and I really thought the actor played this really well. The performance is very good in general.
i think one of imamura’s trademarks is that women are allowed to enjoy sex and she’s very earthy. this reminds me a lot of the pornographers. i’m not sure she’s attracted to the thief so much as attracted to his attraction for her, if that makes sense.
Yeah, that does make sense. She doesn’t get any real affection, not to mention passionate love, from her husband or mother-in-law (just the opposite with the latter). So in a way, I can understand her ambivalence—at least after the initial encounter, when the thief proclaims his love for her.
Still, depicting her enjoying the rape are a bit more problematic. Clearly she struggles and resists, but at some point, she does seem to enjoy the act. This a highly complex situation and thorny to talk about, but I think one could feel some degree of pleasure in this situation, but I would expect that, for the most, part it would be extremely unpleasant. Perhaps, her simple-mindedness explains part of her reaction. Having said that brief signs of pleasure in the scene (and afterward) is a bit troubling. In American films around this time, men forcing themselve on women, with the final result being that the woman actually wanted this to happen or at least enjoyed the encounter isn’t so uncommon (or at least I’ve seen this—Two Mules for Sister Sara comes to mind). So I wonder if Imamura was operating in a similar fashion.
Currently, I think that the character is quite complex, but I’d have to go back and watch this again.
hmm i’ve never seen two mules for sister sara but straw dogs definitely comes to mind. and was very controversial for that reason. anyway i didn’t see her as enjoying it but she’s surely a complex character
Well, I guess there are different degrees of enjoyment. I recall she stopped struggling and her expression wasn’t anguished.
Another example from an older movie—the kissing scene in On the Waterfront. Perhaps this isn’t a “rape,” but Brando’s character forces himself on Eva Marie Saint’s and she resists quite strongly at first.
well look at it this way. she was a maid who was raped by her employer and had his child. and is now living as his common law wife. so the concept of ‘rape’ didn’t really exist in this society. this is why she’s expected to commit suicide. it’s her fault! if it became known it would bring shame on the whole family. even if she struggled the entire time. she can’t win here. i think you’re being kinda rough on her
re: on the waterfront, yes the concept of ‘date rape’ or ‘acquaintance rape’ did not exist in the 50s
two mules for sister sara sounds incredibly dirty…
But yeah, in this character’s situation, it’s hard to say what “enjoyment” even means since she’s just totally subject to her husband. I think part of it is that her rapist is an alternative to her husband, and an alternative that professes his love for her and actively pursues her, as opposed to her husband who only shows her contempt.
i think you’re being kinda rough on her
Are you referring to the way the film depicts her reactions to the rapes? (And after the initial rape, I don’t know if the thief or the husband actually rape her, but they certainly initiate sex in a very forceful way.) I don’t see how this is being rough on her, as what I’m questioning is the way the film depicts her reaction. I find this a little problematic. Could someone enjoy sex in these contexts? Sure, but we’re treading into some thorny (no pun intended) territory.
Not really. It’s an Eastwood Western (I think Shirley Maclaine is in it, too—she plays a nun—maybe a prostitute posing as a nun—that Eastwood’s character helps.)
_ I think part of it is that her rapist is an alternative to her husband, and an alternative that professes his love for her and actively pursues her, as opposed to her husband who only shows her contempt._
Right. I couldn’t understand how she felt for the thief—did she also have feelings for him or was she utterly repulsed and wanted him out her life. Ruby’s point about the thief giving her affection, which she sorely lacked, clears my confusion a bit. So maybe she really does want to get rid of him (including via murder), but she’s a bit torn, too, because he’s expressing love for her. Hmm, I’d have to watch this again to see if my reaction changes.
But yeah, in this character’s situation, it’s hard to s