Previously at the ICA - Films

The Insect Woman (Nippon konchuki)

3 Feb 20129 Feb 2012

A new restored digital print of a rarely seen classic. The late great Imamura, Palm D'or winner and most consistently provocative and productive member of the Japanese New Wave made this blistering and innovative film while at the height of his powers. Imamura saw himself as much as an anthropologist as a story-teller famously stating "I like to make messy films... I am interested in the relationship of the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure... I ask myself what differentiates humans from other animals. What is a human being?" Sachiko Hidari gives one of the most brilliant performances of modern Japanese cinema in The Insect Woman.

The film portrays forty-five years in the life of Matsuki Tome, a hard working woman who finds herself pregnant without a partner as she turns 20. A huge social taboo, she abandons her daughter and finds herself alone and struggling to survive before escaping to a life of relative comfort as the mistress of an American GI. But when he abandons her to return home, she once again finds herself thrust onto the mercies of an economically uncertain future. Late in life she finds herself face to face with her daughter whose tough life has mirrored her own.

Laced with an acerbic wit, and a cynicism towards traditional Japan this is a key title in Imamura's oeuvre which rocked Japan eventually winning 14 Japanese film awards. Unmissable.

Dir. Imamura Shohei, Japan, 1963, Japanese with English subtitles, 123 mins
Cast: Hidari Sachiko, Aizawa Emiko and Harukawa Masumi

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