Utamaro was an artist who lived in Edo (which was later to become modern-day Tokyo) in the late 18th century. This film, which has a complex and wide-ranging storyline, recreates the world of that time, as it appeared in Utamaro’s paintings.
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The director can't resist his base impulses, and so he throws in some S&M, bondage, and samurai swordplay in what could have been an interesting period piece. The soundtrack is surely one of the worst I've ever heard. At times it sounded like the cheesy music you see in porno films. Which may be part of the whole misguided point. The best part of the movie was the Kabuki. What a mess!
I do worry that Akio Jissoji's blatant S&M/Sex torture fetish often resulted in him producing work that he personally wanted to masturbate over - and the fact the producer Kuzui Kinshiro wanted to justify pornography as a legitimate art form so much, the film often resorts to shameless propaganda. HOWEVER, politics aside there is no denying this film is a cinematic masterpiece and shows Jissoji at his most emotional.