Friday 1 November 2013

Stolen Desire [1958]

Japanese iconoclast Imamura’s fascination with the lower rungs, fringes and losers of the society, particularly in the context of post-war Japan, and his penchant for riotous and rambunctious proceedings, baser instincts, and bawdy and ribald comedy were evident in his debut film and first of three films he made the same year, Stolen Desire. It also provided immediate evidence of his desire to break free of Ozu’s influence, under whom he had apprenticed. The story revolved around a penniless travelling theatre troupe that stages kabuki plays, but, on account of dwindling audiences, has resorted to opening with striptease shows. The majority of the film focused on their trip to an earthy village after frustrating run at Osaka to empty houses, and the ensuing series of raucous misadventures and peccadilloes by the string of colourful actors and villagers. During their stay at the village the whole kitchen sink gets thrown in the form of in-group factions, drunken brawls, crooked landowner, lascivious men spying on the girls, old cackling ladies with deceptively smart business acumen, taboo-breaking, and more. And, amidst all the chaotic scheme of things, we have a love triangle too in the form of Shinichi (Hiroyuki Nagato), the idealistic college-educated director who is the odd man out in the troupe, Chidori (Yoko Minamida), the beautiful wife of the leading actor with whom Shinichi is madly in love, and Chigusa (Michie Kita), Chidori’s jealous younger sister who in turn is in love with Shinichi. By the end of the year Imamura’s incredible prowess would become obvious with the darkly funny heist film with the similarly sounding title, Endless Desire.

Director: Shohei Imamura
Genre: Comedy/Social Satire/Ensemble Film/Romantic Comedy
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan

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