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JIGOKU

Director: NOBUO NAKAGAWA

JAPAN • 1960 SUBTITLED • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • 101 MIN


ALTHOUGH VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN IN THE WEST, NOBUO NAKAGAWA IS WIDELY ACKNOWLEDGED IN JAPAN AS THE COUNTRY’S GREATEST EVER DIRECTOR OF HORROR FILMS. PROBABLY HIS MASTERPIECE, JIGOKU IS A STUNNING MORALITY PIECE THAT DRAWS ON BUDDHIST IDEAS OF RETRIBUTION AND THE AFTERLIFE. THIS BLEAKLY BEAUTIFUL DEPICTION OF SIN AND REDEMPTION HAS A STUNNING VISUAL DESIGN AND CULMINATES WITH ONE OF CINEMA’S MOST UNFORGETTABLE EVOCATIONS OF THE UNDERWORLD.
Shiro (Shigeru Amachi) is an earnest young student whose life becomes a personal hell after he meets the mysterious Tamura (Yoichi Numata) and becomes involved in a couple of fatal road accidents. Summoned to visit his ill mother, Shiro finds her in a home for the elderly run by his father, who is openly conducting an affair with a young gold digger. Finding himself surrounded by corrupt cops, negligent doctors, old war criminals, drunks and prostitutes, Shiro and this motley crew are destined to be revisited by their sins and judged in the blood and fire of Hell. The last section of this remarkable film is a haunting and quite extreme depiction of the sufferings of the netherworld, where earthly misdemeanours are punished with never-ending tortures. Nakagawa is concerned with depicting a society that has lost its moral balance, at a time when memories of wartime horrors were still fresh in the Japanese mind, while post-war modernisation was engendering its own anxieties about permissiveness and the dissipation of traditional values.

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