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Night And Fog In Japan [DVD]

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Product details

  • Directors: Nagisa Oshima
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Yume Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 23 Jun. 2008
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0015YY6SC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,032 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Nagisa Oshima's most personal film is a reflection by the director on his own disillusionment with the revolutionary student movement of the 1950's and the failure of political radicalism. Taking it's title (as a reference, or homage) from Alain Resnais' pivotal 1956 documentary Night and Fog, the film has a group of former student revolutionaries who meet again years later at the wedding of one of their classmates. Old feelings, rivalaries and grudges gradually erupt to the surface as the one-time friends recall the various treacheries by which their cause was defeated. Cutting between times past and the present, and unfolding the action from each of his characters viewpoints, Oshima creates an abstract and yet engrossing study of passions past and principles eroded. Controversial upon release - the film's producers pulled the film from distribution after only a few days in cinemas - Night & Fog in Japan retains both its power to shock and its ability to engage the viewer in it s radical form and themes.


A passionate and physical film...a unique work of art --Roberto Silvestri, The Misadventures of a Film

Caustic, radical... a powerhouse! --Inside Cinema

The most important filmmaker of his generation --Jasper Sharp

Caustic, radical... a powerhouse! --Inside Cinema

The most important filmmaker of his generation --Jasper Sharp

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By HJ on 18 July 2008
Format: DVD
Oshima has undoubtedly had a long and remarkable career but I have to confess to not really caring for most of his films. The three I've seen that really impressed were Night & Fog, Shinjuku Thief and Ceremony - so it's great Night & Fog is included in this long overdue batch of early Oshima on DVD from the Yume label.
Night & Fog is not wacky Japanese cult-film fun. It is an intense sombre 1960 film about radical politics with an equally radical & complex cinematic form. It prefigures some of the films Godard would make a few years later.
The film is based on true events & Oshima's own experience as a student activist. After the US occupation ended there was a long struggle throughout the 1950s over whether Japan should ratify its close (subservient) relationship with America with a treaty. This struggle culminated in a (failed) anti-treaty mass demonstration at which a young female militant was killed. Oshima made his film directly after the demonstration.
The main setting is the wedding banquet of 2 young ex-student communists. An unwelcome guest turns up - an ultra-leftist on the run. He accuses everybody present of selling out. Various guests respond. Certain key scenes in the life of the student communist faction are replayed from the different perspectives of the participants (a bit like an extreme version of Kurosawa's Rashomon!).
Although the film is sympathetic to radical Marxism, it is paradoxically also a devastating critique of radicalism. Oshima really captures the group psychology of party politics in which rhetoric & demagoguery are used to gain power & manipulate others; he also captures the way political extremism produces a kind of hysteria in which fanatical belief is bound up with tormented doubt & despair.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nikolaos Oikonomidis on 14 Dec. 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Oshima stands for me as one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema, if only for having made Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. His work has a plurality of styles and themes, which do not always fall to my taste, but a lot of his earlier films were unavailable to me up till now, so it was a great pleasure, starting with Night and Fog in Japan, to realise how, from a theme that normally would have little impact on me, a great director can achieve a breathtaking experience. Oshima admits, even from the title, the Alain Renais influence, but the form is one of his own, and that is the mark of any really great director (in fact there are very few of them in the history of cinema), creating a universe of his own through the simple use of the cinematic elements (that is the reason also why I definitely prefer Polanski to Welles). This is what distinguishes the great from the fake, and this movie is an excellent piece of work, showing what the power of cinema can be.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Technically fascinating if a little didactic in content 26 Jun. 2010
By Robert Moore - Published on
Nagisa Oshima is very much a director of ideas, passionately delving into pressing political and social issues in his films. If other major Japanese directors largely avoid topicality, Oshima embraces them. In this film, which deals with the student revolts in Japan in 1960 (Oshima himself was deeply involved in student protests), he engages in an issues-focused exploration of the attempt to balance nonpolitical issues in a deeply political time (Oshima was one of the major Japanese cultural issues who confronted directly Japan's avoidance of responsibility for WW II and its culpability both in creating a national culture that made that war possible and in the specific crimes it pepetuated in China and elsewhere). Still, for all the ideas in the film, they are the source of almost none of its interest.

What makes NIGHT AND FOG IN JAPAN so interesting to watch is its tremendously inventive cinematography. If you watch a number of Oshima's films, it becomes obvious that he is not a slave to any one style. Some films feature a host of cuts and camera angles. This film is distinguished by its remarkably small number of scenes. In fact, the illusion the camera would like to create is of that of one long continuous shot, much like Alfred Hitchcock's ROPE. The film begins with the camera focused on the bride and groom at the reception of a wedding. Nearly the entire film is told through a series of pans that open up to flashbacks. In the sequence that gives the film its title, one speaker in the middle of the wedding party begins to speak of an incident in the past on a foggy night. As he talks the camera pans right but instead of a wall, we see a foggy area at night. When the scene is finished, the camera pans back to reveal the wedding party. Now, apart from one obvious cut (with a very different angle), the camera would like us to imagine one long shot. In reality there are some wipes and completely new shots, but that is the illusion it would like to create.

Oshima engages in other interesting camera tricks. When one student is revealed as a "snitch" (though he falsely accused), the camera freezes for several seconds. We then immediately get one of the film's rare explicit cuts.

The story is frankly not very interesting, but throughout the sixties Oshima remained one of the more interesting filmmakers in Japan. He is frequently compared to Godard, but in reality I believe that Oshima was even more of an experimenter than the French director. This is certainly one of the more interesting of his very early films.

Sadly, this film is not available in the United States in a Region 1 edition. The only version is a PAL Region 5 edition. I have an All Regions DVD player and was able to obtain a copy of the European version. Hopefully Criterion will consider bringing out a second box set of Oshima's films. They recently brought out the box set entitled Oshima's Outlaw sixties in their Eclipse series. The set is invaluable for brining out a number of otherwise unavailable films, but in truth they failed to bring out many of his most important early films, including NIGHT AND FOG IN JAPAN and DEATH BY HANGING. They could easily do two more Eclipse sets to make more of his films available. Frankly, this early work is the most fascinating part of his career. I found MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE to be dull and mannered, while MAX, MON AMOUR just a bit too strange. But the sixties films show a highly inventive filmmaker striving to do new things with the camera and constitute his best work until IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES.
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