Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

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ex-cowboy
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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#151 Post by ex-cowboy » Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:47 am

I'm a huge Oshima fan and last night watched Three Resurrected Drunkards for the first time. It is a brilliant film. However, and I know Criterion's subtitles on Japanese films are a matter of some controversy (Throne of Blood etc.), the scene in which a series of people are asked if they are Japanese and reply that they are Korean struck me as odd. When they are asked why they are Korean, they all(?) reply "Kangoku kara desu", or "because I come from Korea", however, the subtitles say "because I am". This seems to miss what I understood as Oshima's intended criticism of the arbitrary nature of national identity that fits with the rest of the film. It just seemed odd that this translation was missed, perhaps. But really I'm just glad such a superb release of this (and the rest of the Outlaw Sixties films) exists at all.

Also, this scene seemed to be a sligt reference to Amerika-jin anata-wa, the documentary Terayama co-directed a year before Drunkards which is no bad thing.

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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#152 Post by diquimbe » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:17 am

Has anyone heard if there are plans for this set to be re-released by Criterion on Blu-Ray?

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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#153 Post by jindianajonz » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:20 pm

diquimbe wrote:Has anyone heard if there are plans for this set to be re-released by Criterion on Blu-Ray?
There hasn't been any indication that ANY Eclipse sets will be getting a blu-ray release, as far as I know.

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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#154 Post by Yaanu » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:31 pm

jindianajonz wrote:
diquimbe wrote:Has anyone heard if there are plans for this set to be re-released by Criterion on Blu-Ray?
There hasn't been any indication that ANY Eclipse sets will be getting a blu-ray release, as far as I know.
At least, not until Scanavo makes clear skinny 7mm cases at BD height. Then Criterion might consider a shift.

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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#155 Post by chatterjees » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:03 pm

Yaanu wrote:
jindianajonz wrote:
diquimbe wrote:Has anyone heard if there are plans for this set to be re-released by Criterion on Blu-Ray?
There hasn't been any indication that ANY Eclipse sets will be getting a blu-ray release, as far as I know.

At 2012 Wexner Talk, Kim confirmed that Raymond Bernard's Les misérables and Sabu will be released on BD, which has not happened yet. There was no confirmation of the whole sets being upgraded.

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Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#156 Post by Calvin » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:09 pm

chatterjees wrote: At 2012 Wexner Talk, Kim confirmed that Raymond Bernard's Les misérables and Sabu will be released on BD, which has not happened yet. There was no confirmation of the whole sets being upgraded.
I'm looking for the video right now but she definitely didn't confirm that Sabu would be released on Blu-Ray

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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#157 Post by chatterjees » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:14 pm

Calvin wrote:
chatterjees wrote: At 2012 Wexner Talk, Kim confirmed that Raymond Bernard's Les misérables and Sabu will be released on BD, which has not happened yet. There was no confirmation of the whole sets being upgraded.
I'm looking for the video right now but she definitely didn't confirm that Sabu would be released on Blu-Ray
She did in answer to my question :) She did say that Les misérables would be the first one.

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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#158 Post by Calvin » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:28 pm

chatterjees wrote:
Calvin wrote:
chatterjees wrote: At 2012 Wexner Talk, Kim confirmed that Raymond Bernard's Les misérables and Sabu will be released on BD, which has not happened yet. There was no confirmation of the whole sets being upgraded.
I'm looking for the video right now but she definitely didn't confirm that Sabu would be released on Blu-Ray
She did in answer to my question :) She did say that Les misérables would be the first one.
You can rewatch at around the 50:50 mark. What she says is at if The Jungle Book isn't a part of the Sabu box set then it's probably because it will get a standalone release. But it is, in fact, a part of the Sabu box set :)

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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#159 Post by chatterjees » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:51 pm

What she says is at if The Jungle Book isn't a part of the Sabu box set then it's probably because it will get a standalone release. But it is, in fact, a part of the Sabu box set :)
I am sorry, I meant The Jungle Book, not the whole Sabu set in my comment. Although that guy screwed up the actual question, I got the impression from her response that she meant a standalone version (BD) for The Jungle Book will come out irrespective of its inclusion in the Sabu box.

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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#160 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:53 pm

Things are so dire on the unwatched front that I've resorted to random number generators to narrow down my viewings this summer (though no doubt swo is thrilled at the methodology), but this did mean I finally got around to polishing off this set, which I was in no hurry to do otherwise after the repugnant Sing a Song of Sex stopped me in my tracks last year. I was surprised to see so many members struggling with Japanese Summer: Double Suicide earlier in the thread, as its ambiguities and off-kilter tone and an incessant, juvenile preoccupation with sex and violence (one that is infantalized down so far that it's hard to read as anything but an indictment) make for an interesting trip even if the overall journey is a bit wonky. It doesn't help that JS:DS suffers from having a great first five minutes and then never topping itself. Three Resurrected Drunkards, though, well, this is my sixth Oshima film (all of these plus Cruel Story of Youth) and handily my favorite. Zedz' comparison to the Monkees is apt, and I appreciated the deceivingly light tone and execution throughout. I'm not as convinced the shenanigans of the second half are as well-played or intuitively reasoned as some of its most vocal defenders argue, but I gave it enough rope to go with it on its not quite lucid flights of fancy. And zedz, I'm eye-rolling all over the place at the allegation that this film is more ideologically rigorous than any Godard film. But, mysteries of taste aside, this one gave me the most pleasure and food for thought yet, and I also had a good chuckle at the audaciousness of Oshima's quote re: Japanese cinema in the liner notes. Overall with two pretty great films, two pretty good films, and one fucking disaster, this ended up being a pretty good Eclipse set!

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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#161 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:10 pm

Drunkards was my favorite as well....

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Re: Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Sixties

#162 Post by Cold Bishop » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:55 am

domino harvey wrote:Things are so dire on the unwatched front that I've resorted to random number generators to narrow down my viewings this summer
Image

Not at the moment, but it's been known to happen.

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Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#163 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:30 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2nd AT 6:00 AM.

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#164 Post by zedz » Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:51 pm

Before I start, I highly recommend going into this film blind. There's no real substitute for that sense of total disorientation when you hit the halfway point. So if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favour and watch it before you read further into this thread (though the rest or this post is basically spoiler-free).

Well, I love this film. It's totally absurdist and gleefully self-reflexive. Oshima operated in a dazzling array of modes throughout the sixties (as I've said many times, his run from the big break in the early 60s to the big break in the early 70s is one of the greatest stretches of any filmography I know), and this is him at his most playful: a very special episode of The Monkees hijacked by Samuel Beckett.

But even in this comic / absurdist mode, he's deadly serious about such pet themes as Japan's racist treatment of Koreans (most devastatingly excoriated in Death by Hanging, but a weeping sore in many of his films from this period) and the blight of contemporary imperialism.

I went into a lot more detail in the dedicated Oshima thread for those interested.

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#165 Post by swo17 » Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:19 pm

Here or here, for the lazy.

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#166 Post by teddyleevin » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:53 am

I will echo zedz with regards to its relation to Death by Hanging. Both films work really well for me as satires and political dissections, this one to more comedic ends.

My relation to this film is perhaps unusual as I knew THAT SONG for years before I had heard of this film. When I got the Eclipse set, I hadn't even bothered to read the back and just watched it blind and was shocked to hear the song and finally see some of this band that been tremendously hard to research back in the early 2000s (and I had almost totally forgotten about).

The lateral shots from the train stick in my brain more than anything and are quite chilling and effective. I really like this side of Oshima, which manages to seem not to be taking itself too seriously (and indeed the cast might actually have been not taking it too seriously), and induces fun and guilt from the viewer all at once. People (even Criterion) have called Oshima the Godard of the East (which is dumb), but I definitely feel the same fatigue from some of Oshima's more brutal or sexually-explicit films as I feel from something like Pierrot le Fou for its oppressive style. If Godard has a Three Resurrected Drunkards in his canon, I'd love to see it!

TRD also makes a good companion piece to Head for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. I do imagine that the [Tokyo] Folk Crusaders really did want to break out of their image and show their political awareness in the same was as the Monkees. In fact, both films use the famous image of Nguyễn Văn Lém being executed to darkly sardonic but potent effect (and both by juxtaposition against cheerful music with dark lyrics). Both films came out the same year as that execution had taken place. Both bands and both directors were being shockingly present and deserve supreme commendation.

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#167 Post by Red Screamer » Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:35 pm

This was great fun. The jokes are terrific, the political digs smart and pointed, and the filmmaking gleefully bizarre. Even before I knew that it starred a pop group, it's similarity tonally to A Hard Day's Night and textually to Head were pretty clear and teddyleevin makes a great connection above. (Does anyone know if Oshima actually noted AHDN as an influence?) I like how aspects of identity, specifically gender and national identity, are portrayed as mighty flexible with the characters passing attributes back and forth, giving some away and keeping others. As far as the structure, Oshima found a really effective way to use the dream sequences to prepare the audience for the big repeat, and then pushes the technique further with the ending, which does indeed sear itself under your eyelids. Two beanpoles up

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#168 Post by mizo » Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:14 am

I've just finished watching the film and feel the urge to write something about it, even though I haven't yet been able to really collect my thoughts. (Spoilers will surely follow.)

The impression I got most strongly was that the "identity crisis" experienced by two of the three protagonists was a caricature of the tendency for young radicals (I'm hardly well-versed in Oshima's work, but I get the sense that radicalism and youth are recurring, and intertwining, themes for him) to project themselves wholeheartedly, and often carelessly, onto the group for which they are fighting. When these very naive people, facing the beginnings of adulthood, (this was, after all, "the last adventure of their student days") stumble upon an instance of gross injustice, they impulsively identify - with entirely too much zeal - with the victims thereof.

The first leg of the film, before the repetition, introduces the students as innocent, sanguine pranksters, unaware, it would seem, of the gravity of the game they're playing, recreating Eddie Adams' famous Vietnam photograph. The comically cheerful music similarly addresses death with irreverence. After their clothes are stolen and they face death a few times, the former irreverence eventually gives way to solemnity, as we see in the sequence when people on the street are asked for their nationality and, when asked why, answer, "Because I am." There is a strong feeling of moralizing in this sequence, and it was initially very off-putting to me, but I quickly realized that the students were asking the questions, not the actual filmmakers.

When the film restarts, the characters know what is going to happen to them but not, for the most part, how to avoid it. Forced into the same circumstances as before, but now with the advantage of knowing what will happen, they assume a new nationality to save their skins. Eventually, the two who have donned the Koreans' clothing begin to self-identify as Korean, because the misery they've suffered has not only made them cling more fervently to their assumed identities, but to sympathize more greatly with those who ordinarily suffer those miseries, the Koreans themselves. Already, in the first half, the students have (even if only in their minds) suffered the fate the refugees were able to escape (dying in Vietnam), and were then able to cooperate, if briefly and without ultimate success, with the refugees in trying to kill the "poisonous worm" instead of each other. This series of experiences - many of them, such as the deaths in combat, probably not real - have led the three (or, at least, the two that have to change clothes) to a greater understanding of the Koreans.

Still, the understanding is a very faulty one, because the students don't learn what is apparently a very fundamental rule: Koreans don't kill Koreans. They observe that the Koreans - indeed, any group that is oppressed - are, far from being a homogenous whole free of internal strife, instead decidedly uncivil with each other. This is most clearly evinced in the character of the "poisonous bug," who is odious in every respect and causes the young woman nothing but misery, but is still defensible on the grounds that he is "one of them" and can therefore not be ostracized from the group. Because of the students' failure to adequately understand, the expression of solidarity they offer at the end is, finally, a somewhat darkly ironic one, the two young zealots coming across as well-meaning but fairly impotent, especially considering they were only a moment ago saved by the police (maligned earlier in the film for their own ineffectualness) from the very people to whom they are now pledging their allegiance.

While I don't doubt that Oshima has great sympathy for the Korean people and outrage at their mistreatment by the Japanese, I do see his assessment of the Koreans as a great deal more nuanced than merely as the target of oppression. I think he is also very wary of being too quick to identify wholeheartedly with oppressed groups, because it can easily cause lack of understanding or adequate respect for those groups. Of course, I don't believe Oshima saw himself as exempt from this charge, as indicated by the reference to the impossibility for a "stupid Japanese director" to adequately tell this story.

---

Well, this got pretty long! Apologies to those sifting through my rantings if I was somewhat less than coherent or consistent, but I really am just trying to find words for the many ideas that are going through my head after seeing this incredibly fascinating film. I hope somebody finds my rantings worthwhile!

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#169 Post by teddyleevin » Fri Feb 06, 2015 1:30 pm

Appendix to my first post because I've been thinking about my history with this film ever since I rewatched it: Ages ago, I was in a class in college about Japanese film comedy (I apparently majored in Japanese film criticism/history but I already forgot most of what I learned). One of the films we screened with Oshima's Death by Hanging. My final essay was called Oshima and Comedy. Here is the passage where I discuss Drunkards. I found a bit of value in revisiting my thoughts from when I first approached this film. Please forgive the shallow observations and too-assured proclamations of a college student:

Taking a look at other films that were commercially popular at the time in Japan, it is hard to see how a film like Death By Hanging even got made. The first installment in the Tora-San franchise, which was released the following year, combines slapstick with melodrama creating a type of comedy that is as messy as Death By Hanging's. However, that kind of comedy was what Japan wanted and the repetitive and homogenous Tora-San films remained in cinemas for several decades. Fortunately, with student uprisings, and political unrest there was still a place for the subversive films of directors like Nagisa Oshima, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Masahiro Shinoda, and Shohei Imamura. The late 60s were a very turbulent time in Japan leading up to Yukio Mishima's shocking suicide in 1970, which in its way was a cinematic and theatrical move. Suicide, death, crime, perversion, and sex were the subject matters and absurdism and shock value typified the aesthetics. Oshima, one of the most outrageous of the New Wave filmmakers, outdid Death By Hanging in this regard when, in the same year, he directed Three Resurrected Drunkards.

Pop group The Folk Crusaders (known in America as the Tokyo Folk Crusaders) are Oshima's Three Drunkards. As the strains of their classic song, “Kaette kita yopparai” (“Drunkard Returns,” released in America as “I Only Live Twice,” a fabulous title given the form of the film) play, we see the Crusaders/Drunkards walking on the beach re-enacting the famous photograph of Nguyen Van Lem being shot by Nguyen Ngoc Loan. Certainly one of the most famous images of the Vietnam war, especially relevant seeing as the photograph was taken that very year. The Drunkards meticulously recreate this image as the silly music plays (the lyrics of which, about the joys of heaven, and the possibility of resurrection, fit the film like a glove) creating a darkly humorous and possibly insensitive moment. The Drunkards then play in the water as a hand comes out of the sand and steals two of their outfits, replacing them with the clothing of Korean stowaways. When they return, they question the motivation of the clothing thief, but switch into the new clothes anyway. They are soon being pursued on both sides: Japanese think them to be stowaways, and the actual Korean stowaways want to kill them (while wearing the Korean clothes) so that they can ensure their own safety. Like Death By Hanging, the logic of the film is often questioned by both the characters and the audience, but it is never dwelled upon for very long. All references are made in passing, like when the one of the characters refers to predictable films by “stupid Japanese directors.”

The story moves incredibly fast and in its 80-minute running time, there is only one potentially tedious moment, though it works to great effect. Halfway through the film, the film starts over, and we watch the entire beach scene again, shot-for-shot. However, from that point the story divulges, and the “second lives” of our protagonists are markedly different from the first. Throughout the film, there are many fantastic moments, and the Korean-Japanese relationship is examined. The Korean Stowaways want the Crusaders to kill two other people as scapegoats (in another scene that recalls the Nguyen Van Lem murder). Upon discovering that these two other characters are Korean themselves, the principal stowaway (played by Oshima regular Kei Sato) declares that they cannot kill them, and they are forced to find people that aren't Korean. What follows is a comedic interview montage accompanied by Muzak. The Crusaders with camera and microphone try to find someone on the street who is Japanese, but they only find Koreans. Oshima spends a lot of time explaining that Koreans are among the Japanese, in larger numbers than one might realize, and that they are people just like the Japanese. It's the same identity play we saw in Death By Hanging. In both of their lives, the Drunkards switch racial identities based on their condition, and by the end of their second lives, they truly believe themselves to be Koreans. Fortunately, this film is more successful than Death By Hanging mainly because the narrative is much more enjoyable. Upon the film's conclusion, we have final repeated images of the Nguyen Van Lem murder used for shock value and in these final moments of the film, nobody is laughing. The Drunkards die (presumably physically, but their souls definitely perish; a very Oshima idea) a second time and the film cuts to black. As the credits roll, we hear their funny song a third time. It started the film, and it started the second life halfway through, and by having us hear it a third time, Oshima keeps the narrative repeating into eternity. He has no need to show us the next life of our characters, because by this point we have been given the sad, pessimistic truths: Korean immigrants are doomed to be persecuted in Japan. An underrated classic, Three Resurrected Drunkards, feels so much like a comedy, even if it doesn't often induce laughter.

FOOTNOTE: Apparently, contemporaneous Japanese audiences were so unprepared for the film starting over that they assumed the projector had played the wrong reel and that they were actually seeing the beginning of the film again. I myself admit that I was confused the first time and it did cross my mind that I might have acquired a defective DVD.

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#170 Post by Drucker » Sun Feb 08, 2015 3:40 pm

I don't have much to add to the discussion other than I enjoyed this film a great deal. Much if not all of the political tone of the film was honestly lost at me (I didn't realize they were re-creating the Vietnam image at the beginning of the film, too.)

I've mentioned in other threads how much of the various "new waves" are lost on me, and I admit I am still relatively very new to film, and so it may be a thing that comes with time. That said, this film was relatively easy to follow as far as new wave films are concerned. What I love is that this bizarre adventure is treated with total seriousness. The film's vibe is very youthful and fun.

Where does it stand with Oshima's other films? Are other ones grander in scale/tone? Where does one go next?

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#171 Post by mizo » Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:21 pm

Having spent the last couple days catching up on some of my major Oshima gaps (though quite a few are left), all I can say is that Three Resurrected Drunkards is exactly like every other Oshima film in that it is utterly unlike every other.

If you appreciated the bizarre tone of the film most, I would direct you towards Death by Hanging which has got to be one of the strangest and blackest comedies I've ever seen, not to mention an astonishingly vicious satire of practically every major aspect of Japanese society from government to race relations to sexual mores to religion and so on (most of Oshima's barbs are at universal issues, so one needn't know too much about Japanese society specifically - in fact, TRD probably gave you a pretty decent primer of the specifics).

If you'd like to see what he can do with a more traditional style (but without losing one iota of his incredible boldness) I'd suggest The Ceremony, a fairly sprawling depiction of an extended family from the turbulent post-war years to the present day of the film's creation (the early 70's). As that description suggests, the film does engage a great deal with Japanese history, but a lot of it is pretty clearly indicated in the film, and even without a ton of prior awareness, most of the symbolism is easily identifiable. Moreover, the film has some incredible widescreen color cinematography and a few truly unforgettable set pieces (a wedding with one component absent comes to mind) that are very much of a piece with the absurdist wit on display in this film, which I should probably be talking about instead of rattling on about other films. (P.S. zedz's write-ups - linked by swo a few posts above - take in a much broader survey of Oshima's oeuvre and go into much greater depth, although you should be wary of some spoilers.)

Anyway, since I have now seen some more of Oshima's films, I would say that one of the most characteristic aspects of his work visible in this film is the intense semiotic density and ambiguity. Even as I wrote the assessment above, I had the distinct feeling that I was approaching the film from too narrow a frame of mind and the implications of many of the symbols were more far-reaching than I was giving them allowance for. Reading teddyleevin's "appendix" above, I see he perceived in the interview sequence (wherein people off the street were asked about their nationalities) an entirely different tone than I did, but I can totally sympathize with his response and actually don't view it as contradictory to my own. The tonal duality of the sequence - simultaneously didactic and comedic - point to a fundamental quality of ambivalence, with which the characterizations, symbols, tones, and intellectual points alike are imbued, that is driven even further in the two films I mentioned above to the point where they transcend their ostensible subjects - respectively, the death penalty and familial politics - and become enormously broad and open-ended satires that are truly unlike just about anything else I've ever seen.

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#172 Post by zedz » Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:09 pm

mizoguchi5354 wrote:Anyway, since I have now seen some more of Oshima's films, I would say that one of the most characteristic aspects of his work visible in this film is the intense semiotic density and ambiguity.
That's a good way of putting it, and it's particularly apposite for a film like Death by Hanging, in which nothing is simply what it appears to be and everything represents multiple abstract ideas. The amazing thing is that Oshima marshals a perpetually shifting and shimmering matrix of meanings into something that's devastatingly coherent and sharp on all its levels.

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#173 Post by movielocke » Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:50 pm

The only Oshima I've seen going into this film were In the Realm of the Senses, which I've watched several times and love, and a 16mm faded-to-pink, beat-to-hell print of Diary of a Shinjiku Thief, a professor in college made us watch for some long lost to me obscure class related reason. I loved the former, and honestly at this point have little memory of and no opinion of the latter.

So, I think I was expecting something more akin to In the Realm of the Senses, traditional narrative embedded with political subtext and some digressions. given the title, I wondered if it was a Pitfall-esque political ghost story.

about twenty seconds in, I thought to myself, "this is like a deranged version of A Hard Day's Night!" and a couple of minutes later I thought, "actually it's more like Head." And about twenty minutes in, I paused it, thinking, "what the hell is going on? are they like a japanese Beatles and this is supposed to be anarchic, youthful chaos or is it supposed to be a political satire and them looking like musicians is just a riff on Head?" I read the liner notes on the film in hopes of orienting myself with a little bit of context, and promptly spoiled the big reset that I was only a couple minutes away from.

So that slightly ruined the shock for me, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the deranged and acid political skewering throughout the film. and I would say that I probably appreciated the whole film much more as a result, otherwise I'd have probably needed to rewatch it to not be irritated at the trick, and that wouldn't have happened. I definitely would have fussed over the dvd player and dvd trying to figure out why it was malfunctioning, which would have been comic in retrospect but would have made me so irritated I'd have probably lashed out at the film.

the more I think about the film, the more impressed I am that it manages to be so overt and on-the-nose without feeling like it's a hammer-to-the-head, with all the eye rolls and casual dismissal that usually follows from such strident advocacy. There's a sincerity and bitterness that serve the film well.

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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#174 Post by Gregory » Thu Feb 12, 2015 9:34 pm

The first time I saw this film I was mainly struck by how intricately Oshima used various types of repetition and variation, and on this viewing I noticed those techniques particularly in relation to (1) fluid identity and changes of clothing and (2) the use of the iconic execution image. The latter morphs from playful slapstick at the beginning, to the scenes using jarring 180 degree cuts to show the execution of Dokumushi as well as the bystanders, and finally to the haunting elaboration of the image with the billboard images at the end of the film. A powerful still image like the Eddie Adams photo can ultimately have more impact than a moving image, especially if it can be reproduced in millions of periodicals, shown on TV, and so on without losing its force. Oshima's film multiplies that moment through the various ways he employs the assassination motif, such as jokey mock execution, reenactment of it in the context of the film's Korean/Japanese concerns, and presentation of the image of Loan executing Lém which of course evokes Vietnam directly and specifically.
As a side note, I find it curious how quickly Oshima was able to conceive this film, shoot it, edit it, and get it released: Eddie Adams took the photo on Feb. 1, 1968, and the film's original release date is usually given as March 30, 1968, so it all happened unbelievably quickly, though of course a lot of the preproduction, casting, etc. could have predated the infamous execution that ended up being central to the film.

As an iconic image, it took on a life of its own the moment it was printed, because people who saw it generally were extremely troubled that this kind of thing was taking place. Somehow, even if people could stomach the idea of Vietnamese people dying in combat conditions or under routine bombardment, the image of a summary execution of a prisoner drove home the brutality of the war. Yet Adams himself considered Loan (the general who pulled the trigger) to be a hero, and the photo a "lie" or a "half truth" (he used both of those terms in his "Eulogy" for Loan in Time).

Part of the photo's impact was likely a result of the fact that most who saw it knew little or nothing about the man at the end of the barrel and saw someone in civilian clothing (Lém) being executed without trial. Defending his actions, Loan mentioned not only that Lém had killed policed officers but that he had done so in civilian clothing: "When you see a man in civilian clothes with a revolver killing your people... then what are you supposed to do? ... Put him in jail for two or three years and then let him go back to the enemy?" He added that the Viet Cong who fought in uniform had rights guaranteed by international agreements, "but when they are not in uniform they are criminals and the rule of war is death" (quoted from James S. Robbins, This Time We Win, p.154). So the clothing is crucial, and apparently an extrajudicial execution of someone in a plaid shirt was more acceptable than that of someone in a uniform.
And that brings me back to Three Resurrected Drunkards, in which clothing is one of the most important recurring themes and devices. Identity is elusive and variable, as in so many of Oshima's other films, and it shifts with changes of clothing and instances of having identities both taken (e.g. the main characters' Japanese identity taken by the Koreans) and mistaken (e.g., by the cigarette vendor and the police). This is one of many comedic devices (mistaken identify, chase sequences) that Oshima used subversively in the film to play with serious and controversial political themes.

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movielocke
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Re: Three Resurrected Drunkards (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)

#175 Post by movielocke » Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:00 am

What's the symbolic meaning of the hand coming out of the sand to grab the clothes? It's strikingly surrealist, a bunuel sort of touch...

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