Skip to main content


Japan, 1984 (MIFF 1988, Asian Cinema Showcase)

Director: Nagasaki Shunichi

"A key film from the Japanese new wave of the early-mid 80 s, Nagasaki's brilliant Heart, Beating in the Dark, reinvents the languages of cinema, sexuality and identity to come to terms with the problems' that his own generation experiences - and represents.

A young couple, apparently on the run from something, beg a room for the night from an old college friend of the boy. Left alone they make love, the boy showing almost sadistic brutality to the girl. Next morning they go on their way

The simple fiction is broken up by three other types of material. First, flashbacks to the couple's past. These are acted out in the room, but with the boy playing the girl and vice versa. Second, a long monologue delivered direct to camera by the boy. Third, two segments from an interview with a social worker in which she describes the burgeoning problem of unwanted pregnancies and infanticide. The film holds the precise nature of the couple's guilty secret until near the end.

The audience is left for nearly an hour to speculate on the connection between the social worker and the couple together in a near sado-masochistic relationship. These collisions and conjunctions are half absurdist and half formalist and keep the film continuously suspended between fiction, meta-fiction and documentary.

Good modernist avant garde practice, of course, but the film no more registers as a box of fashionable tricks than it allows itself to be reduced to direct questions or easy formulations. It's at the level of dramatic fiction that it is ultimately most provocative and disturbing, because the final scenes unmistakably resolve the film as a love story As such, it is as terrifying and chastening as anything of Oshima's [and] strikes me as a masterpiece.” - Tony Rayns

As the film is shot on, and will be shown on Super 8, which cannot be sub-titled, it will be presented with live English translation

See also...


Heart, Beating in the Dark is a remake, a sequel, a making of and a continuation of Nagasaki's 1982 Super 8 classic of the same name. It is also, according to the Rotterdam Film Festival, “the ... More »


In his highly accomplished, self-financed, first feature, Chisho Itoh focuses on the friendship that develops between Kagau a lonely, neglected Tokyo schoolgirl and Ryo a window cleaner, recently ... More »


Former cincmatographer Zhang Yimou makes an impressive directional debut with this lush rural epic based on renowned Shangdong author Mo Yan's short story. Set during the Sino-Japanese war in the ... More »


It's 1934, downtown Hong Kong and Fleur, (Anita Mui) an aspiring opera singer turned prostitute is entertaining her special friend" Chan (Leslie Cheung), the languid, pampered, opium-puffing son of a ... More »


Despite the shift to regionalism in Indian cinema, productions from Assam (in India's North, bordering onto China and Burma) are scarce. Catastrophe, the director's third feature sets the wider theme ... More »


The follow up to Huang Jianxm's very successful first feature Black Cannon Incident, is a decidedly different type of film, that even those familiar with the new developments in Chinese cinema may ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director