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Naked Youth [1960] [DVD]

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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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: 25 Feb. 2008
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000Z9ED3G
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,614 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Oshima's second feature is a shocking tale of youthful delinquency in post-Hiroshima Japan. Conveying the pent-up sexuality and disillusionment among Japan's post-war generation it tells the story of teenage lovers Makoto and Kiyoshi. She's a good-girl-gone-bad, dropping out of school and out of home; he's a violent hoodlum, gambler and hustler. Making a living by performing shakedowns and attempting blackmail on unsuspecting middle-aged men, the film affords a bleak, nihilistic take to the ' taiyozako' (Japanese cinema's 'delinquent youth' films). Often billed as Japan's Rebel Without a Cause, but whereas James Dean's Jim Stark had the proverbial heart of gold, Kawazu's Kiyoshi is filled only with rage and disgust. All of life's harsh realities await Makoto and Kiyoshi - this is no morality lesson or cautionary tale, just a window into a terrible vision of humanity.

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This was Nagisa Oshima's second film. He is more known for Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence [DVD] [1983] and the notorious but outstandingThe Realm Of The Senses [DVD] [1991].

Naked Youth takes the boy from the wrong side of the tracks meets girl from good loving background and places it firmly in the new emerging Japan of the 1950s. The Second World War saw social norm in all nations overturned in the aftermath. In the US it is probably Rebel Without A Cause that was the most serious film to approach the subject.

Oshima certainly portrays a narcissistic view of the central couple that seems to both confront and conform to the Japan of the time. There is very little in the way of hope but one great moment of redemption comes when the street-punk Kiyoshi goes to see Makoto in the surgery after she has had an abortion. He brings with him two apples. He eats the green one and leaves the rosy red one for her. The viewer is taken back to a quick shot of the crucifixion on a stained glass window at Makoto's school. The apples seem to represent those from the Adam and Eve story. But also the green suggests that although Kiyoshi may be street wise he is less ripe (mature) than Makoto who has led a sheltered life up until their meeting.

For me this is the genius of Oshima and it is what makes him the greatest of Japanese film makers and one of the greatest of all time anywhere.
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Japan staggered into student upheavel in the 50's after early feelings of 40's amphetamine fuelled supremacy, hitting a post depressive collective comedown after 45. The depression was all encompassing as the real world closed in on the fake self belief of deluded Emperor worshipers. The feeling of being cheated tore the country apart between those who thought the war should have been prosecuted with more virulence and those who saw through the facade.

The film starts with students protesting against the world around them. Then it decides to take a detour into the lives of young people stretching their legs into the adult world.

A tale of living dreams instead of feeling middle age regret is the constant battle. Middle Age men preying on the beauty of the young. Those who have the wealth never feeling enough and wanting the allure of youth. Young people alienated from the world feeding on the neediness of the wealthy. It is an eternal trap, a symbiosis unravelling as a thread throughout until it finally ends.

In between we are led down the pathways of rape, abortion, beatings, prostitution, gang violence and theft. Shot in the developing worlds of Japan the scenic backdrop of a country on the move provides a sterile beauty of an industrial bleakness. It captures an essential quotient of Japan. The neon world of cell like claustrophobic bedsits exist in a counterpoint to the wide expansive industrial wastelands.

Oshima's realism disguised as cynicism portrays a reality of young people's hustle beamed back to them. No wonder the film was funded and has become a cinematic classic. It tapped into a 60's zeitgeist. It should by now, be seen as a museum piece in post 21stC capitalism. Unfortunately it still pictures a social reality beamed back to young people. The main difference? The aesthetic style was much sharper, well defined and beautiful in the 1960's.

So much for cinematic, artistic, cultural emotional progress.
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