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Japan, 1969 (MIFF 1973)

Director: Masahiro Shinoda

Masahiro Shinoda made his first film in 1960, and was immediately hailed as one of the Japanese New Wave. Since then he has made fourteen films, the most recent of which is Double Suicide, which, like his other work, reveals a complex concern for the limits which social conventions place upon the individual's quest for personal fulfilment. It is based on a Kabuki play written in 1720 by Monzaemon Chikamatsu, and Shinoda has incorporated much of the Kabuki style into his film.

Jihei owns a papershop in Osaka and leads a fairly comfortable existence. However, all this is undermined when he falls in love with Koharu, a courtesan whose bondage he cannot afford, because of his responsibilities to his wife and children. With Koharu, he contemplates suicide, but following his brothers incognito visit to her, he discovers her reluctance to carry out their plan. Angered, he attacks Koharu, making their affair public. The separation which follows, finds Jihei promising to be faithful to his wife, Osan, but he discovers that she had written to Koharu, asking her to save his life, and so what had apeared to be an infidelity, was in fact otherwise. Osan's father arrives demanding a divorce for his daughter, leaving Jihei desperate.

"... a tragic, beautiful paean to love and freedom that transcends place, time and the ages..."

Mosk, Variety

"... a starkly fantastic image of horror worthy of Bergman in his best medieval mood..."

Tom Milne, Sight and Sound

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