Muri shinjû: Nihon no natsu
“I think that our only route to freedom and our only route to pleasure can come after we have first recognized that freedom and pleasure are not possible in this world.”–Nagisa Ôshima
DIRECTED BY: Nagisa Ôshima
FEATURING: Keiko Sakurai, Kei Satô, Masakazu Tamura, Taiji Tonoyama
PLOT: An oversexed eighteen-year old girl wanders a city looking for a man to sleep with her—any man. She takes up with a strange, reserved older army deserter, but fails to convince him to service her, as he has a death wish and is only interested meeting someone who will kill him. The two are abducted and taken to a compound where outlaws are being recruited to fight in a secret underground war; meanwhile, television reports tell of a foreign sniper killing civilians on the streets, driving all of Japan to hide in their homes.
- Disappointed by the timidity of the Japanese studio system and the political controversy surrounding his 1960 movie Night and Fog in Japan, Nagisa Ôshima formed his own production company in 1965. Japanese Summer: Double Suicide was one of the baker’s dozen of self-produced films he directed between 1965 and 1972, and the first one to indulge in wall-to-wall surrealism.
- Stars Keiko Sakurai and Kei Satô also appeared in Nagisa Ôshima’s next film, Death by Hanging, which was Sakurai’s only other acting credit.
- Ôshima would go on to cult success in the West with his sexually explicit provocation In the Realm of the Senses (1976), and with Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) starring .
- This feature should not be confused with Masahiro Shinoda‘s 1969 arthouse hit Double Suicide, a fourth-wall breaking adaptation of an 18th century Japanese play about doomed lovers. Although entirely unrelated, Shinoda‘s film is worth seeing in its own right.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: In what just might be a bit of symbolic foreshadowing, the two main characters lie down on top chalk outlines around which, moments ago, reverent monks had been circling and chanting. (Curiously, the outlines are sketched on a what should be a busy four-lane highway, yet there is no traffic).
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Virgin nympho; deserted highways; “a Japanese Dallas”
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Starring a nympho who can’t get laid and a suicidal man who can’t get killed, Ôshima’s surrealistic Sixties satire carves out a unique space somewhere between a ian joke and an extended zen koan.
Original trailer for Japanese Summer: Double Suicide
COMMENTS: When our on-the-make nymphomaniac meets the Continue reading 224. JAPANESE SUMMER: DOUBLE SUICIDE (1967)