Thursday, June 29, 2006

Zojoji Temple (2)

With a heavy heart, Ikasumi belatedly notes the recent passing of director Imamura Shohei, maker of innumerable classic films. Virtually every review or article on Imamura includes his famous statement, "I am interested in the relationship of the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure." In a way focusing on this line underplays the breadth of his work and its attention to all human feeling, but certainly he was an admirer of those unencumbered by the proprieties of the so-called respectable Japanese social strata. He also showed a deep affection for quirky and outcast characters, which is rather unique in Japanese cinema. His talents garnered him much acclaim outside his home country, and he was the only Japanese director to win the Palme d'or at Cannes twice (with the haunting "Ballad of Narayama" in 1982, and "The Eel (Unagi)" in 1997). Both are highly recommended. He made many other notable films, but a short list would include "Pigs and Battleships", "Black Rain" (certainly not to be confused with the Ridley Scott/Michael Douglas action film, which is of a different category altogether, but instead based on Ibuse Masuji's novel), and the wonderful, "Dr. Akagi", his penultimate full-length feature. The last one could perhaps be seen as a tribute to Imamura's own physician father, as it seems to draw some parallels between the crusading doctor character and the artist, each pursuing their vision in the face of society's disapproval. His talent and spirit will be sorely missed in Japanese cinema.   Posted by Picasa


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