The Ceremony (Gishiki)

Nagisa Oshima (Boy, In the Realm of the Senses) is universally considered the most important force in modern Japanese cinema. The Ceremony is not only his most ambitious film, but probably the most ambitious work attempted by a Japanese director in the last decade. The film's subject is the entire history of postwar Japan; the plot chronicles the fortunes of the powerful Sakurada family from 1946 to the present. What starts out looking like one of those long and formal family sagas the Japanese love so well snowballs into the horror and violence of the ripest Jacobean dramas; bizarre set-piece scenes pile onto one another in a vertiginous indictment of the madness of contemporary Japan.

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