In this macabre farce, a Korean man is sentenced to death in Japan but survives his execution, sending the authorities into a panic about what to do next. At once disturbing and oddly amusing, Nagisa Ôshima’s constantly surprising film is a startlingly subversive and surreal political statement.
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The punitive & theological casuistry's abstract lungs achieve pleural warmth in Oshima's film like a Galatea roused from the mineral and calcified cold of theory to the mercurial jaggedness of life, and it is striking the degree to which canonical and secular procedures use consciousness as mere expedient and validation stamp: before the condemnation, the soul's expected to internalize the guilt and scouring grief of
Oshima's dark absurdist farce that takes on everything from Japanese exceptionalism to existential dread. Relevant social and political questions perversely served up as theatrical burlesque, because that's we've made them. A little scattered, and with some weird unquestioned rape-apologism that thankfully wouldn't fly today. Still, a remarkable and important contribution to cinema.
I disagree with people who don't like the 2nd hour as much as the 1st (as good as it is). It's one of the best mixes of political polemic and absurdist film I've come across. It's a lot funnier than the title/subject matter would infer, in its satire of the death penalty, institutions, morality, nationalism, racism and self interest. The last half hour is strangely moving. MASTERPIECE.
The ever pigeonhole-resistant Nagisa Oshima offers up a mother-of-all-social-issue-pictures type deal here. He is very volubly interrogating Japan's then-current popular support of capital punishment as well as its treatment of Koreans (an ongoing bête noire of his). But this ain't no lecture. It's an indelicate though bravely open public hearing. A bad trip. Many will invoke Kafka. Well, no shit!