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Death By Hanging

Nagisa Oshima

Genius provocateur Nagisa Oshima, an influential figure in the Japanese New Wave of the 1960s, made one of his most startling political statements with the compelling pitch-black satire Death by Hanging. In this macabre farce, a Korean man is sentenced to death in Japan but survives his execution, sending the authorities into a panic about what to do next. At once disturbing and oddly amusing, Oshima’s constantly surprising film is a subversive and surreal indictment of both capital punishment and the treatment of Korean immigrants in his country.

“One of the most bitingly political and surrealistic send-ups of capital punishment and capital obstinacy ever conceived. But, importantly, the lunacy never hamstrings the critique; rather, it potently distills and reframes the absurdity of much of what we accept at face value.” – Sight & Sound

“A thought experiment that’s a radical critique of both the justice system and Japanese xenophobia, Oshima’s existential farce was his first film for the critic-guided Art Theatre Guild. It was a breakthrough for the director internationally, and its trip through the noose and the looking-glass remains coruscatingly brilliant.” – Film Comment

“One of the supreme achievements by this great provocateur of Japanese cinema. Starting with this surreal premise, Oshima dutifully follows its logic until he creates a world unlike that of any other in his career… Oshima’s satire here is remarkably comprehensive, touching on capital punishment, political corruption, and institutionalized racism… though what may be more astonishing is how he maintains such a high degree of formal invention throughout.” – Cine-File

“One of Nagisa Oshima’s very best… The inventive staging is not merely dazzling but purposeful… The results are Brechtian in the best sense: entertaining, instructive, gripping, mind-boggling, often humorous, and very much alive.” – Reader

“Death by Hanging is essential Oshima, an aggressively difficult, feverishly inventive film… Character and narrative continuity, spatial and temporal logic: all are systematically undermined in Death by Hanging as Oshima scrambles together political polemic, Brechtian alienation effects, Kafkaesque parable and a surrealist assault on perception worthy of Buñuel.” – Senses of Cinema



  • 1/15 | 8:00PM
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