Wednesday, August 30, 2023

SING A SONG OF SEX (Nagisa Oshima, 1967, Japan)


Four lascivious young men are on the verge of adulthood, their indistinct and indiscriminate futures like bawdy lyrics sung in the thick smoke of burning desire. Director Oshima Nagisa defines a superficial reality before it disintegrates into a fantasy of violent sexuality, revolution, and impotent murder.

Here in Oshima’s vision of Japan, the disenfranchised youth mirror their western counterparts, consumed by lurid advertising like insects drawn to sugary confection, where a once proud country is relegated to American folk songs, Woody Guthrie anthems proclaiming foreign lands now subsumed by the peaceful protestors whose words echo hollow over still waters. The four young men exist in an existential vacuum, a void where a mysterious woman is nothing more than a number, dehumanized into pornographic fantasy. These students recognize their sensei as nothing more than human, an older version of themselves perhaps, living a lie of social mores…so they take the path of social anarchy. Drunken words awaken nihilistic desires, and soon the wandering narrative becomes a murder mystery and police procedural, a smokescreen for the ethereal unreality as substantial as snowflakes.

Finally, a lecture discusses the racial tensions between the Japanese and South Koreans while the young girl who is nothing more than number 469 is murdered in a classroom, moments before a gang rape. The oppressed know no boundaries, either by nationality or race, and the four young men shall inherit this pessimistic world: but they may not want it.

Final Grade: (B)