Though his fifth film as a director, Pigs and Battleships was the first movie that made the world stand up and take notice of the Japanese iconoclast Shohei Imamura. His obsessive fascination with the seedy underbelly of post-WWII Japanese society took a gleefully grotesque and comically violent form in this darkly funny movie laced with trenchant socio-political commentaries. The film’s protagonist Kinta (Hiroyuki Nagato) is glibly amoral anti-hero with a swagger to remember, working, in the hope for a fat bonus, for the Japanese yakuza gangsters and racketeers who have started a pig farm as part of a scheme. His girlfriend Haruko (Jitsuko Yohimura) desperately pleads him to go straight so that she need not prostitute to American G.I.’s to sustain herself. The partnership of convenience between the powers that be, however, soon goes for a toss, and it’s our young, dim-witted Romeo who finds himself in the middle of the brewing tussle, leading the film to a carnivalesque and unforgettable over-the-top climax comprising of an avalanche of pigs in the thriving naval-base town of Yokosuka, where the story is set around a decade after the war. No one is spared Imamura’s vitriolic observations and acerbic jabs, be it the arrogant G.I.’s, the opportunistic Japanese mobs looking to make some quick cash, or the corrupt Japanese-American and Chinese middlemen. Shot in glorious B/W, the film comprises of bravura camera work and smart usage of music in order to portray the chaotic proceedings and their ironic underpinnings. Nagato gave a fabulous portrayal, as did the entire support cast, thus providing us with an idiosyncratic, immensely enjoyable and subtly humane movie.
Director: Shohei Imamura
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Social Satire/Political Satire/Gangster Film