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EIJANAIKA

Japan, 1981 (MIFF 1981)

Director: Shohei Imamura

The second year of the Keio Era (1 866) Japan is in the midst of a turbulent period Boiling in the minds of the masses is something pointing toward the coming of a new age While transporting raw silk off Yokohama, Genji, a poor farmer, had been ship-wrecked. A passing American ship picked him up and took him to America Genji returns to such a Japan from America after an absence of six years For Genji. the United States was a country of freedom and equality, a heavenly land, but his longing for his native land and his young wife, Ine, never ceased He discovers that Ine is no longer at their home In his native province Ine had waited two years for her husband's return but at the end of that time, she had been sold into prostitution to raise money for her ailing father Genji searches far and wide for Ine He finally finds her performing under another name as a stripper in East Ryogoku, a haunt of entertainers, pickpockets, beggars, limps and ruffians. The people flood the streets in a frenzy, shouting 'Eijanaika" ('Why Not?'), dancing madly...

Against the background of confused social conditions in which 'Eijanaika' disturbances and farmers' riots broke jut toward the end of the Edo Period, his is a lavish entertainment depicting he life of the common people overflowing with vitality.

“Shohei Imamura's new film, Eijanaika, is one of his best and consequently one of the finest Japanese films of the year. The director of Pigs and Battleships, The Insect Voman, The Pornographers and Vengeance is Mine has now emerged is one of the most consistently interesting and rewarding of all Japanese directors. The latest picture, which the director himself has called an historical documentary", is a wonderful view of Edo-period Japan which is also a revealing allegory of modern Japan. In it Imamura deepens and amplifies those themes which he as made his: the vitality of the common people, their victimization by the powerful and the moneyed within their own society, their stubborn ability to nonetheless carry on, survive, endure. This very strong theme — and Tiamura is the only film director brave enough to have made it his — is illustrated in all ways in Eijanaika and as always in an Imamura film, it is ilIustrated with humor, with compassion and with an objective affection which is the director's very own and which places his pictures among the finest in Japanese cinematic history."

Donald Richie

See also...

EIJANAIKA

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