“Your tears are so salty. I love to taste them.”
Nagisa Oshima’s intense film about sex and obsession was so far outside the boundaries of what was allowable in “proper” cinema that it faced bans in many countries, and even today can’t be shown uncensored in its own country. “By cutting and obscuring,” he told the authorities, “you have made my pure film dirty.”
Based on a notorious true crime incident (which perhaps helped fuel the myth of the “man-eater,” the male fear of a sexually voracious woman) the film tells a simple story of two lovers in 1936 who become destructively obsessed with one another, disconnecting gradually from the outside world—sex as a drug spiral—until meeting a lurid end. And over everything hangs the shadow of Imperial Japan marching towards its doom. Among other things this was one of the first, and sadly perhaps one of the last, attempts to use the explicit, “pornographic” depiction of real human sex as an artistic tool for non-pornographic storytelling.