Profound Desire of the Gods

Profound Desire of the Gods

神々の深き欲望 (Kamigami no Fukaki Yokubo)
Saturday, March 22, 2014

Image: The Profound Desire of the Gods © 1968 Nikkatsu

A special screening commemorating actor Rentaro Mikuni (1923-2013).

Donald Richie on The Profound Desire of the Gods:
"In The Profound Desire of the Gods, filmed entirely on location on the southern island of Ishigakijima, much of the footage of its original three-hour length is devoted to the topography of the place, its flora and fauna, including the islanders whose ways are as primitive as they are natural. But two-thirds through, the story suddenly breaks off and a title tells us that several years have passed. The spot has been discovered by the tourist industry--planes, taxis, French fries. The final sequence--the shaman menaced by the new train--is affecting because we have come to understand the primitive and to long for it. Now all is gone. The cry of the Coca-Cola seller is the voice of doom. It is the early Japanese, the 'primitive' ones, who are real--not our rationalizing contemporaries." (Excerpted from Richie's A Hundred Years of Japanese Film.)

Shohei Imamura's (1926-2006) first color film is a powerful testament to people caught between modernity and the primitive, the rational and mythology, and technology and nature. In an isolated village on a southern island, Tokyo's capitalist development plan encroaches on traditional ways of life while the family in charge of local rituals fights against discrimination for their practice of incest. Rentaro Mikuni's incomparable acting illuminates Imamura's ultimate quest--to examine what being Japanese means.

1968, 175 min., 35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shohei Imamura. With Rentaro Mikuni, Choichiro Kawarazaki, Kazuo Kitamura, Hideko Okiyama, Yasuko Matsui, Yoshi Kato.

Part of Richie's Electric Eight: A Tribute to Donald Richie (1924-2013), Part 2


$12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors and students

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