Shinju ten Amijima (Double Suicide)

“Jihei, a merchant of paper products, has neglected his business in pursuit of Koharu, a prostitute. Despite his wife's and his brother's attempts to help him, the business is failing, a rival wants to buy Koharu's contract, and his wife is dragged back to her father's home.

“Shinoda's treatment of the Chikamatsu play is more than faithful to the spirit of the Bunraku or puppet theater for which it was written. Not only are there the kuroko, or black-robed and therefore invisible stage assistants, but Iwashita Shima (Shinoda's wife) plays both wife and prostitute, reflecting the Bunraku convention of using only one doll's face for a young woman (where character, rank, and marital status would be indicated by costume and wig). The overall effect is highly claustrophobic, well-suited to a representation of a closed moral code, a closed society, and to a closed dramaturgical rhetorical system. But unlike the Bunraku, Shinoda's production is very surrealist and overtly sexual and erotic. Of special note are the photography of Narushima, now a director in his own right, and the music of Takemitsu, one of Japan's leading composers and of considerable international reputation.”

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