Night and Fog in Japan

Investigating the factions and nuances of left-wing politics in Japan, in a strident subversion of both ritual and romance, Oshima turns a wedding into the occasion for an all-out, angry debate among comrades in the communist-youth struggle that culminated in the protest against the Japanese-American security treaty. In an audacious exploration of widescreen space, Oshima virtually destroys depth of field in order to travel through time on a horizontal plane. Flashbacks-within-flashbacks unfold out of a fog that obscures any illusion of real time or space. The film's title is an evident homage to Alain Resnais, but it is also a specifically Japanese reference to the darkness after “the sun's burial” (the title of Oshima's previous film). Dizzying pans about the room convey the violent conflicts between otherwise static characters; at moments, music drowns out their impassioned speeches. It is a still Noh drama intercut with sporadic bursts of hyperactivity: it is radical politics in Japan.

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