Sexual Fantasy versus Reality (Nihon shunka-kô reviewed)


Nihon shunka-kô (Japan, 1967)

Seen: Thursday, 9th July 2009 (cinema, Lato Filmów festival)
Runtime: 103′
Director: Nagisa Oshima
Production House: Sozosha
Plot: Four male university students have just finished with exams and they’re bored and horny. A teacher gets drunk and starts singing vulgar erotic songs to his students, which fuels the erotic imagination of the four students even more. And then the line between reality and sexual fantasy gets very blurred.


Impressions In Short
Compared to this, Gohatto (with which this film shares the director) has a perfectly clear storyline that requires no interpretation whatsoever ;)

More About the Film
The plot in this film is very elusive ;) It’s strongest point is the themes it touches upon. I loved hearing lots of vulgar Japanese folk songs (the English title of the film is A Treatise on Japanese Bawdy Songs). I’m pretty sure every culture must have those, but one very rarely hears them. I found the songs utterly hilarious (as did most of the cinema I think).
The other theme that was really interesting and which I’ve hardly ever seen on screen before is sexual fantasy and how even though you might fantasize about something it doesn’t mean you really want to or even are able to do it.
The four students come up with this gruesome fantasy in which they gang rape a very pretty female student during an exam. They are later challenged to try and make that fantasy a reality. For me this was the part of the plot that was the most interesting and made for some pretty bizarre viewing. The way the rape fantasy was filmed was hilarious. Of course only me, Kin and two guys a few rows behind us were laughing. Though, I’ll admit that this was one of those rare moments when my weird sense of humour surfacing like that made me feel a little uncomfortable. It wasn’t just that it was a rape scene, I think what made me a little uncomfortable about laughing at it was that the girl being raped was treated like an object without feelings and that that was part of the joke. It felt even more uncomfortable to hear the guys laughing behind us because they were… well guys. But I think that just shows you how taboo what the film was trying to do is. I was quite fascinated with my own reaction ;)
Btw, just so this doesn’t get misunderstood - the girl that gets raped in the fantasy isn’t objectified throughout the whole film. Quite the contrary actually… They might treat her like an object in the fantasy and it is clearly part of what amuses them (and therefore the audience), but doing so in real life is much more tricky.
While the film has some excellent food for thought, I didn’t enjoy myself all that much. I had trouble getting properly involved in it since I felt the characters were a bit underdeveloped and the plot was very difficult to follow.

Not particularly, though its subject matter is so rare (especially considering how old this film is!) that I guess you might want to give it a try for that reason.

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