Death by Hanging (1968) torrent download

Death by Hanging

1968

Comedy / Crime / Drama

7.5

Synopsis

A Korean man is sentenced to death by hanging, but he survives the execution. For the following two hours, his executioners try to work out how to handle the situation in this black farce.

Director

Nagisa Ōshima

Cast

Kei Satō
as Prison warden
Fumio Watanabe
as Education Officer
Masao Adachi
as Chief of Guards
Hôsei Komatsu
as District attorney
Masao Matsuda
as Secretary of the D.A.

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dromasca 9 /10

Kafka meets Japan

This is one of the most complex and troubling films that I have seen lately. I know unfortunately too little about Nagisa Oshima, beyond his being the director of the famous Empire of Senses. Here he gives an amazingly strong film about the fate of one man identified by a one letter name (as in Kafka's Process) facing death by hanging but refusing to die, and losing his memory in the process. The whole bureaucratic system around works to get his memory back in order to make him pay for his crimes. They will re-enact his crimes starting to look crazier and bringing to surface their own demons and prejudices, plunging the hero redeemed innocent by amnesia and themselves in a complex world that mixes ceremony and nightmare. The film is a strong shout of protest against the death penalty, militarism and any repressive system that crashes human dignity.

Reviewed by sharptongue 8 /10

Nagisa lays it on the line

Oshima is a director who usually leaves you in no doubt about what he thinks, but he goes all out here. This film is a strong polemic against the death penalty as practiced in Japan. The condemned man fails to die, and those in the death chamber panic and wonder what to do. After about five minutes of narration (by Oshima himself), the characters gear into action, using Oshima's chosen method : black farce. This is a very funny film, and all the more so because it confronts some very edgy stuff and often crosses the line to outrage. Oshima, as he often does, attacks Japan's sacred cows head on. As well as the death penalty, he deals with prejudice against Koreans, rape, politics, respect for authority and much more.

The acting is excellent, particularly the Korean who plays the condemned man. His calm poise provides an excellent balance to the mania of the officials around him, as they try to make him remember who he is and what he's done.

Strong stuff, warmly recommended.

Reviewed by tedg N/A

Film as Execution

One of the benefits of writing film comments is that readers will sometimes send me recommendations. If that were the only benefit, and if this were the only recommendation I would get, it would be worth it.

By reading the comments, you may think that the main value of this film is a damning polemic on capital punishment plus a perhaps more powerful examination of (Japanese) racism toward Koreans. It is those things and powerfully so. But the manner in while the narrative unfolds deserves experiencing even if Japanese politics of the sixties doesn't interest you.

Its construction is worth your effort. It starts as a documentary of a hanging. The man is hanged but apparently survives. He has lost his identity. In order for his re-execution to be legit, they have to reintroduce him to the crime. Though all the acting is done in the execution room by the executioners (including a doctor, lawyer and Christian priest), the viewer enters shifting imaginations and we are taken on a series of conversions.

At one end, the beginning, we have the execution witnesses following the re-enactors from scene to scene, the re-enactors, executioners, taking roles in the drama. The scenes become more real until the murder where an executioner gets carried away and kills an innocent woman.

Then things shift more radically and all sorts of complex folds appear simultaneously. Some viewers "can see" and others not. The murdered girl comes out of her coffin to become a competitor to write what we see, combination lover, writer, and sister, shifting from Japanese to Korean.

You need to ignore the preaching because it gets in the way. Perhaps the second time around pay attention to it — it maps quite well onto America and its blacks, though there's far less brutality, length of history and institutionalized racism in the US case. But as I say, this all has less value than the way the thing is put together.

While watching this, you will notice that the steps of narrative shifting are of different types, radically different types — as varied as you get in "Citizen Kane," or "Annie Hall." They slip sideways in unexpected directions. But the shifts occur at roughly the same frequency and seem at about the same distance.

This narrative shifting does serve the political agenda, in part because that agenda is simple. Something that seems invisible in one maturely rationalized perspective, become obvious when the perspective is shifted a bit away from all the storied protections.

I think I'm putting this on my list of essential films.

Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.

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