Nagisa Ōshima (大島 渚, Ōshima Nagisa, March 31, 1932 – January 15, 2013) was a Japanese film director and screenwriter. His films include In the Realm of the Senses (1976), a sexually explicit film set in 1930s Japan, and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), about World War II prisoners of war held by the Japanese.
大島 渚 (Ōshima Nagisa)
Ōshima in 2000
|Died||January 15, 2013 (aged 80)|
|Awards||Cannes Film Festival |
1978 Empire of Passion – Best Director (Prix de la mise en scène)
After graduating from Kyoto University in 1954, where he studied political history, Ōshima was hired by film production company Shochiku Ltd. and quickly progressed to directing his own movies, making his debut feature A Town of Love and Hope in 1959.
Ōshima's cinematic career and influence developed very swiftly, and such films as Cruel Story of Youth and Night and Fog in Japan followed in 1960. The last of these 1960 films explored Ōshima's disillusionment with the traditional political left, and his frustrations with the right, and Shochiku withdrew the film from circulation after less than a week, claiming that, following the recent assassination of the Socialist Party leader Inejiro Asanuma by the ultranationalist Otoya Yamaguchi, there was a risk of "unrest". Ōshima left the studio in response, and launched his own independent production company. Despite the controversy, Night and Fog in Japan placed tenth in that year's Kinema Jumpo's best-films poll of Japanese critics, and it has subsequently amassed considerable acclaim abroad.
In 1961 Ōshima directed The Catch, based on a novella by Kenzaburō Ōe about the relationship between a wartime Japanese village and a captured African American serviceman. The Catch has not traditionally been viewed as one of Ōshima major works, though it did notably introduce a thematic exploration of bigotry and xenophobia, themes which would be explored in greater depth in the later documentary Diary of Yunbogi, and feature films Death by Hanging and Three Resurrected Drunkards. He embarked upon a period of work in television, producing a series of documentaries; notably among them 1965's Diary Of Yunbogi. Based upon an examination of the lives of street children in Seoul, it was made by Ōshima after a trip to South Korea.
Ōshima directed three features in 1968. The first of these - Death by Hanging (1968) presented the story of the failed execution of a young Korean for rape and murder, and was loosely based upon an actual crime and execution which had taken place in 1958. The film utilizes non-realistic "distancing" techniques after the fashion of Bertold Brecht or Jean-Luc Godard to examine Japan's record of racial discrimination against its Korean minority, incorporating elements of farce and political satire, and a number of visual techniques associated with the cinematic new wave in a densely layered narrative. It was placed third in Kinema Jumpo's 1968 poll, and has also garnered significant attention globally. Death By Hanging inaugurated a string of films (continuing through 1976's In the Realm of the Senses) that clarified a number of Ōshima's key themes, most notably a need to question social constraints, and to similarly deconstruct received political doctrines.
Months later, Diary of a Shinjuku Thief unites a number of Ōshima's thematic concerns within a dense, collage-style presentation. Featuring a title which alludes to Jean Genet's The Thief's Journal, the film explores the links between sexual and political radicalism, specifically examining the day-to-day life of a would-be radical whose sexual desires take the form of kleptomania. The fragmented narrative is interrupted by commentators, including Kara Jūrō's underground performance troupe, starring Kara Jūrō, his then wife Ri Reisen, and Maro Akaji (who would go on to lead the butoh troupe Dairakudakan). Yokoo Tadanori, an artist who created many of the iconic theatre posters during the 1960s and '70s, plays the thief, who gets a bit part in Kara's performance. The film also features a psychoanalyst, the president of Kinokuniya Bookstore in Shinjuku, and an impromptu symposium featuring actors from previous Ōshima films (along with Ōshima himself), all dissecting varied aspects of shifting sexual politics, as embodied by various characters within the film.
Boy (1969), based on another real-life case, was the story of a family who use their child to make money by deliberately getting involved in road accidents and making the drivers pay compensation.
The Ceremony (1971) is a satirical look at Japanese attitudes, famously expressed in a scene where a marriage ceremony has to go ahead even though the bride is not present.
In 1976, Ōshima made In the Realm of the Senses, a film based on a true story of fatal sexual obsession in 1930s Japan. Ōshima, a critic of censorship and his contemporary Akira Kurosawa's humanism, was determined that the film should feature unsimulated sex and thus the undeveloped film had to be transported to France to be processed. An uncensored version of the movie is still unavailable in Japan. Ōshima testified in a Japanese court about whether the film was obscene. "Nothing that is expressed is obscene," the director said. "What is obscene is what is hidden."
In his 1978 companion film to In the Realm of the Senses, Empire of Passion, Ōshima took a more restrained approach to depicting the sexual passions of the two lovers driven to murder, and the film won the 1978 Cannes Film Festival award for best director.
1980s and beyondEdit
In 1983 Ōshima had a critical success with a film made partly in English, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, set in a wartime Japanese prison camp, and featuring rock star David Bowie and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, alongside Takeshi Kitano. The movie is sometimes viewed as a minor classic but never found a mainstream audience. Max, Mon Amour (1986), written with Luis Buñuel's frequent collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière, was a comedy about a diplomat's wife (Charlotte Rampling) whose love affair with a chimpanzee is quietly incorporated into an eminently civilised ménage à trois.
A collection of Ōshima's essays and articles was published in English in 1993 as Cinema, Censorship and the State. In 1995 he wrote and directed the archival documentary '100 Years of Japanese Cinema' for the British Film Institute. A critical study by Maureen Turim appeared in 1998.
In 1996 Ōshima suffered a stroke, but he recovered enough to return to directing in 1999 with the samurai film Taboo (Gohatto), set during the bakumatsu era and starring Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence actor Takeshi Kitano. Ryuichi Sakamoto, who had both acted in and composed for Lawrence, provided the score.
He subsequently suffered more strokes, and Gohatto proved to be his final film. Ōshima had initially planned to create a biopic entitled Hollywood Zen based on the life of Issei actor Sessue Hayakawa. The script had been allegedly completed and set to film in Los Angeles, but due to constant delays, declining health, and Ōshima's eventual death in 2013 (see below), the project went unrealized.
Ōshima had a degree of fluency in English. In the 2000s, he worked as a translator, translating four volumes by John Gray into Japanese, including "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". Ōshima died on January 15, 2013 of pneumonia. He was 80.
|Year||English title||Japanese title||Romaji||Notes|
|1959||Tomorrow's Sun||明日の太陽||Ashita no Taiyō||Short (7 min), color.|
|1959||A Town of Love and Hope||愛と希望の街||Ai to Kibō no Machi||62 min, B&W.|
|1960||Cruel Story of Youth||青春残酷物語||Seishun Zankoku Monogatari||96 min, color.|
|1960||The Sun's Burial||太陽の墓場||Taiyō no Hakaba||87 min, color.|
|1960||Night and Fog in Japan||日本の夜と霧||Nihon no Yoru to Kiri||107 min, color.|
|1961||The Catch||飼育||Shiiku||105 min, B&W.|
|1962||The Rebel||天草四郎時貞||Amakusa Shirō Tokisada||101 min, B&W.|
|1965||The Pleasures of the Flesh||悦楽||Etsuraku||90 min, color.|
|1965||Yunbogi's Diary||ユンボギの日記||Yunbogi no Nikki||(Short) 24 min, B&W.|
|1966||Violence at Noon||白昼の通り魔||Hakuchū no Tōrima||99 min, B&W.|
|1967||Tales of the Ninja (Band of Ninja)||忍者武芸帳||Ninja Bugei-Chō||131 min, B&W.|
|1967||Sing a Song of Sex (A Treatise on Japanese Bawdy Songs)||日本春歌考||Nihon Shunka-Kō||103 min, color.|
|1967||Double Suicide: Japanese Summer||無理心中日本の夏||Muri Shinjū: Nihon no Natsu||98 min, B&W.|
|1968||Death by Hanging||絞死刑||Kōshikē||117 min, B&W.|
|1968||Diary of a Shinjuku Thief||新宿泥棒日記||Shinjuku Dorobō Nikki||94 min, B&W/color.|
|1968||Three Resurrected Drunkards||帰って来たヨッパライ||Kaette Kita Yopparai||80 min, color.|
|1969||Boy||少年||Shōnen||97 min, color.|
|1970||The Man Who Left His Will on Film||東京戰争戦後秘話||Tōkyō Sensō Sengo Hiwa||94 min, B&W.|
|1971||The Ceremony||儀式||Gishiki||123 min, color.|
|1972||Dear Summer Sister||夏の妹||Natsu no Imōto||96 min, color.|
|1976||In the Realm of the Senses||愛のコリーダ||Ai no Korīda||104 min, color.|
|1978||Empire of Passion||愛の亡霊||Ai no Bōrē||108 min, color.|
|1983||Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence||戦場のメリークリスマス||Senjō no Merī Kurisumasu||123 min, color, UK/Japan.|
|1986||Max, Mon Amour||マックス、モン・アムール||Makkusu, Mon Amūru||97 min, color. France/USA/Japan.|
|1999||Taboo||御法度||Gohatto||100 min, color.|
|Year||Original title||English title||Notes|
|1962||Kōri no Naka no Seishun||Youth on the Ice||25 min|
|1963||Wasurerareta Kōgun||Forgotten Soldiers||25 min|
|1963||Chiisana Bōken Ryokō||A Small Child's First Adventure||60 min|
|1964||Watashi wa Beretto||It's Me Here, Bellett||60 min|
|1964||Seishun no Ishibumi||The Tomb of Youth||40 min|
|1964||Hankotsu no Toride||A Rebel's Fortress||25 min|
|1964||Gimei Shōjo||The Girl Under an Assumed Name||30 min|
|1964||Chita Niseigo Taiheiyō Ōdan||Crossing the Pacific on the Chita Niseigo||2 x 30 min|
|1964||Aru Kokutetsu-Jōmuin||A National Railway Worker||25 min|
|1964||Aogeba Tōtoshi||Ode to an Old Teacher|
|1964||Aisurebakoso||Why I Love You|
|1964||Ajia no Akebono||The Dawn of Asia||13 x 60 min|
|1965||Gyosen Sonansu||The Trawler Incident||30 min|
|1968||Daitōa Sensō||The Pacific War (The Greater East Asian War)||2 x 30 min|
|1969||Mō-Takutō to Bunka Daikakumē||Mao and the Cultural Revolution||49 min|
|1972||Joi! Bangla||24 min|
|1972||Goze: Mōmoku no Onna-Tabigēnin||The Journey of the Blind Musicians|
|1973||Bengal no Chichi Laman||The Father of Bangladesh|
|1975||Ikiteiru Nihonkai-Kaisen||The Battle of Tsushima||50 min|
|1976||Ikiteiru Gyokusai no Shima||The Isle of the Final Battle||25 min|
|1976||Ōgon no Daichi Bengal||The Golden Land of Bengal|
|1976||Ikiteiru Umi no Bohyō||The Sunken Tomb|
|1976||Denki Mō-Takutō||The Life of Mao|
|1977||Yokoi Shōichi: Guamu-to 28 Nen no Nazo o Ou||Human Drama: 28 Years of Hiding in the Jungle||49 min|
|1977||Shisha wa Itsumademo Wakai||The Dead Remain Young||49 min|
|1991||Kyōto, My Mother's Place|
|1994||100 Years of Japanese Cinema||60min|
Film scholars who have focused on the work of Ōshima include Isolde Standish, an Australian and British Humanities Scholar and Film theorist specialised in East Asia. She teaches courses on Ōshima at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and wrote extensively on him as for example:
- Politics, Porn and Protest: Japanese Avant-Garde Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s. New York: Continuum Int. Publishing Group.
- 'Transgression and the Politics of Porn. Ōshima Nagisa's In the Realm of the Senses (1976)'. In: Phillips, A. and Stringer, J., (eds.), Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts. Abingdon: Routledge, pp 217-228).
- Bergen, Ronald (January 15, 2013). "Nagisa Oshima obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- Bock 1978, p. 311
- Bock 1978, p. 333
- Turim 1998, p. 168
- Oshima 1992, p. 101
- Richie, Donald (2001). A Hundred Years Of Japanese Film. Tokyo: Kodansha International. p. 198.
- Bock 1978, p. 335
- Sato, Tadao (1982). Currents In Japanese Cinema. Tokyo: Kodansha International. p. 177.
- Turim 1998, p. 88
- Lim, Dennis (January 15, 2013). "Nagisa Oshima, Iconoclastic Filmmaker, Dies at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- "Festival de Cannes: Empire of Passion". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- "Nagisa Oshima". The Daily Telegraph. London. January 15, 2013.
- Oliver, Jia. "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence — A Clash of Cultures". www.medium.com. Medium. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
- "Nihon eiga kantoku kyōkai nenpyō" (in Japanese). Nihon eiga kantoku kyōkai. Archived from the original on July 26, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
- "Nihon Eiga Kantoku Kyōkai Shinjinshō" (in Japanese). Directors Guild of Japan. Archived from the original on November 22, 2010. Retrieved December 11, 2010.
- Oshima 1992
- "100 Years of Japanese Cinema". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
- Turim 1998
- Schilling, Mark. "Nagisa Oshima: a leading force in film". The Japan Times. The Japan Times. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
- "Gil Rossellini Interview with Nagsia Oshima (Part 3 of 3)". YouTube. YouTube. Event occurs at 3:15. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
Yes, I am planning to shoot a story of a Japanese. His name is Sessue Hayakawa. He was the only Japanese star in Hollywood. It was the 1910s silent film period of Hollywood. I will try to describe this star and the situation of the Japanese in the states.
- "The 61st San Sebastian Festival will dedicate a retrospective to Nagisa Oshima". San Sebastian Film Festival. January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
- Unknown (August 20, 2018). "STANDISH, Isolde". Federation University Australia. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
- Standish, Isolde (June 2, 2011). Politics, Porn and Protest: Japanese Avant-Garde Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s. A&C Black. ISBN 978-0-8264-3901-7.
- "イゾルダ・スタンディッシュ". 教員インタビュー (in Japanese). Retrieved April 15, 2020.
- Turim, Maureen Cheryn (1998). The Films of Oshima Nagisa: Images of a Japanese Iconoclast. Berkeley: University of California. ISBN 978-0520206663.
- Bock, Audie (1978). Japanese Film Directors. Kodansha. ISBN 0-87011-304-6.
- Oshima, Nagisa (1992). Cinema, Censorship And The State. Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-65039-8.