Film

Hell
FILM

Hell

地獄 (Jigoku)
Friday, January 21, 2011

Sold Out

1960, 101 min., 35 mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles.
Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa. With Shigeru Amachi, Utako Mitsuya, Yoichi Numata, Torahiko Nakamura, Fumiko Miyata, Hiroshi Hayashi, Kimie Tokudaiji. Print Courtesy of The Japan Foundation with permission Janus Films.


“This seminal work in world fantasy cinema still has the power to both shock and strike awe into the hearts of its viewers, and deserves to be brought to as wide an audience as possible.“ – Jasper Sharp, Midnight Eye

From the father of Japanese horror cinema, Hell explores the further regions of the human imagination and the untold oceans of darkness beyond, in a stunning and epic evocation of the underworld that spares no effort assaulting the senses of the innocent viewer.

There is indeed no waste of good suffering in Hell: as the film opens, theology student Shiro Shimizu (Shigeru Amachi) is not yet there (hell, that is), but he has certainly seen brighter days. After a hit-and-run accident that takes the life of a drunken yakuza, he tries to turn himself in… when a second car crash not only cuts his redemptive attempt short but also kills his fiancée Yukiko (Utako Mitsuya). Things are not exactly looking up for the protagonist from then on. His best friend, or rather best fiend, the weirdly ubiquitous Tamura (Yoichi Numata), who may very well be the protagonist’s malevolent doppelganger, gets him embroiled in a tangled web of deadly sin, eventually resulting in mass death. This is where the real psychedelic, psychotic (and exotic?) fun really starts.

A jaw-dropping mix of surreal, expressionist horror and psychological drama, Nakagawa’s film still stands as one of the most innovative works of the genre ever.

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Part of Zen & Its Opposite: Essential (& Turbulent) Japanese Art House

Each film illustrates one or several of the “Six Planes of Existence“—a Buddhist concept commonly referred to as “Six Paths” (Rokudō 六道 or Rokudō-rinne 六道輪廻) in Japan—within “the realm of Birth and Death” (Samsara).

Hell
The Realm of the Beings in Hell:
Naraka-gati in Sanskrit. Jigokudō (地獄道) in Japanese. The lowest and worst of all realms, wracked by torture and violence.

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