Big Japanese clans and all the weird stuff that goes on in them (Gishiki reviewed)


Gishiki (Japan, 1971)

Seen: Saturday, 11th July 2009 (cinema, Lato Filmów festival)
Runtime: 123′
Director: Nagisa Oshima
Cast: Kenzô Kawarasaki, Atsuko Kaku, Nobuko Otowa
Production House: Art Theatre Guild, Sozosha
Plot: The story of a powerful Japanese clan and of their gradual demise.

This must be one of the longest trailers ever ;)

Impressions In Short
Yet another weird Nagisa Oshima film with an elusive plot, though this one is elusive for different reasons…

More About the Film
Unlike Nihon shunka-kô and even Gohatto, this film has plot that happens on screen rather than in the imagination of the audience. Despite that it’s still difficult to follow for someone like me because I’m very ignorant about history (though I suspect that since Japanese history isn’t taught much in my part of the world, many of the people who paid attention during history lessons would not know the political and cultural context of the film either). My suspicions seem confirmed by imdb - even though the reviews are positive, only the person who claims to be living in Japan sounds like they understand the context of it (I had some of it explained to me by Kin after the film - I still feel like some of it eluded me though).
The Sakurada clan are very heavily involved with the politics of Japan after WW2 and though the complicated relationships between the family members are the main subject matter of the film, not knowing the context made it a much more difficult film to watch.
Though I guess even if I had known the film’s context, it would have still been a little difficult to watch - it’s a 1971 Oshima film after all ;) It has some great humorous scenes though and some very interesting conflicts between characters. And as usual with Oshima - there’s some sort of forbidden sexual content (this time it’s incest).

Er… maybe… I’m not convinced I should be recommending this though ;) Oshima is a very intriguing director, but he’s difficult and I think there are better films to start with…

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