© Argos Films/Tamasa
Directed by: Shūji Terayama
1981 / 86 minutes / R 18+
Erotic art-house fare with a political backdrop
The lecherous and wealthy Sir Stephen (Klaus Kinski) sends his young lover O (Isabelle Illiers) to a brothel in Southern China, so she can prove her unconditional love and obedience to him. While O is subjected to a variety of erotically humiliating and misogynistic experiences in this surreally pittoresque environment, a local rebellion stemming from resentment towards foreign imperialism arises, and an impoverished young man joins the revolution just to afford a night with O.
Loosely based on the novel Return to the Château by Anne Desclos, which was written as a sequel to the Story of O, this sexually explicit drama by Terayama and mainstream French producer Anatole Dauman (In the Realm of the Senses) relocates the original characters from Paris to 1920s Southern China. The film’s collateral vignettes, together with rainbow-filtered scenes focusing on other, more captivating characters from the brothel, are used by Terayama to cleverly depict his idea of sex as a form of political revenge.
Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra
Palace James Street, Brisbane
The Chauvel Cinema, Sydney
Director: Shūji Terayama
Cast: Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Illiers, Arielle Dombasle and Pîtâ
Genre: Special Series
Category: Free, Shuji Terayama
Language(s): French, Japanese, English & Cantonese with English subtitles
Format: 35mm colour
This film is part of JFF 2021’s Special Series which honours the prolific and multifaceted artistic career of Shūji Terayama (1935-1983). From the mid 1960s to the early 1970s, Angura (underground) theatre, which imported ‘freak show’ elements, twisted eroticsm and the reinstatement of folklore that had been excluded from modern theatre, reached its zenith in Japan as an anti-establishment movement. Terayama founded the internationally acclaimed theatre troop ‘Tenjō Sajiki’, and was at the centre of this experimental scene. However, his creation was not limited to theatre, and as a filmmaker, poet and social and cultural commentator, he was a leading figure in the ‘expanded cinema’ being explored in post-WWII Japan.
This program presents a handful of the late auteur’s short and feature-length cinematic work showcasing his signature transgressive approach to filmmaking. From dismantling concepts of time, history and myth to visually audacious portrayals of sexual and political revolution–these films are at once unexpectedly beautiful and discomforting.