“Erogotoshitachi” yori Jinruigaku nyūmon
“What kind of fish is that? What is it doing there?
“Very strange…”–dialogue spoken over the opening credits of The Pornographers
DIRECTED BY: Shôhei Imamura
FEATURING: Shôichi Ozawa, Sumiko Sakamoto, Keiko Sagawa, Masaomi Kondô
PLOT: Ogata makes illicit pornographic films to support his widowed landlady, who is also his lover, and her two teenage children. The widow believes her ex-husband was reincarnated as a carp she keeps in a fishbowl next to the bed and that he disapproves of the arrangement, but she cannot control herself. When she dies, she insists Ogata marry her daughter, but the pornographer has become impotent and obsessed with building a mechanical woman to be the perfect mate.
- Shôhei Imamura apprenticed as an assistant director under Yasujirô Ozu, and although he was considered a major figure in the Japanese New Wave, his movies are little known outside his native land. In the West, The Pornographers is his best-known work.
- The scenario was based on a 1963 novel by Akiyuki Nosaka (who also wrote the story on which Grave of the Fireflies was based).
- The Pornographers was made by Nikkatsu studios, who ironically turned from producing art films to making pornography (“pink films”) soon after the scandal over Branded to Kill in 1967. ‘s “incomprehensible”
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Shôhei Imamura frames many of the shots in The Pornographers oddly, including a couple of bedroom scenes viewed through a fish tank; the idea is that we are watching the jealous carp as he spies on his human wife making love to Ogata. The weirdest of these shots, however, has to be a Haru’s deathbed scene, also shot through the carp cam—improbably, this time, from above, as if the fish is looking down from heaven on the spouse who is soon to join him.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Carp ex-hubby; slow schoolgirl porn star; Ogata floats away
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: A cavalcade of perversions flecked with short dream sequences and unannounced flashbacks, almost every scene in The Pornographers is eccentric, if not flatly surreal. The main character delivers a philosophical monologue as he walks though an orgy, the matron freaks out to the surf-rock soundtrack in her head, and a new wife strips to garter and stockings as she walks down the corridor to meet her mother-in-law for the first time. Although the story is based in realism, the film’s tone is melodramatic and dreamily erotic—but, ironically, hardly pornographic at all.
Original trailer for The Pornographers
COMMENTS: The key to understanding The Pornographers may be Continue reading 219. THE PORNOGRAPHERS (1966)