Japanese film maker Nagisa Oshima, responsible for writing and directing a number of controversial and provocative movies in his lifetime, passed away on Tuesday afternoon at the age of 80. He died at a hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture after struggling with pneumonia for some time, along with paralysis after a stroke late in his life.
Born and raised in Kyoto, Oshima left University and moved to Tokyo to join the Shochiku production house. There, he turned away from the influence of Japan’s most celebrated film directors, including Yasujirô Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Akira Kurosawa, instead looking toward’s France’s Jean-Luc Godard. Credited with kick-starting Japan’s own new wave filmmaking style, Oshima’s first title, A Town Of Love And Hope, was released in 1959. His art-house films became recognized for criticizing society, and Oshima himself became known for fearlessly speaking out and standing up to any attempts of censorship. Never one to be tied to a specific genre, Oshima addressed issues from sex and crime to politics and social life.
Oshima once said that his “hatred for Japanese cinema includes absolutely all of it,” easily summarizing his distaste for the establishment of what others considered refined, yet saw as submissive politeness and uncompromising ideals of beauty. His ultimate work of controversy is without a doubt 1976′s In The Realm Of The Senses, a film still discussed today for its near pornographic depictions of sex and violence. While it was heavily censored around the globe upon its release, it can be easily found today in its original edit, however it has still never been shown in its entirety in Japan. That film saw Koji Wakamatsu, another acclaimed Japanese director who tragically died last year after being hit by a car, serve as producer.
The film Oshima was most known for in the West was 1983′s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and adaptation of the wartime novel by Laurens van der Post. Starring David Bowie, Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, the POW drama was the director’s only English language film. His final film was Taboo, a samurai period drama that struggles with homosexuality, was released in 1999, three years after a stroke.