1961-1970DocumentaryJapanShohei Imamura

Shôhei Imamura – Nippon Sengoshi – Madamu onboro no Seikatsu AKA Postwar History of Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess (1970)

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The star of this documentary is a quintessential Imamura heroine: a hard-nosed, ruthless survivor, with a sense of loyalty and an earthy sense of humor. In this movie, she sits in a Tokyo bar, which she used to own, and tells the story of the various means she used to survive, beginning with the day the atom bomb fell. It is a history of compromises and hard deeds, though there are few outright betrayals.

Comment from Cinematheque Ontario:

“One of the most powerful and brilliant films dealing with the Second World War and its aftermath” (Joan Mellen). As the provocative title suggests, Imamura is scornful of “the official story.” He approaches history not as a record of great events, but as a story experienced and narrated by a common (if unusual) person: Madame Onboro, a woman who bought a bar in Yokusaka, the setting of Imamura’s PIGS AND BATTLESHIPS, and who married an American soldier. The hostess’s commentary about her life after the war is intercut with newsreel footage that often contradicts her account of the American Occupation, and with a portrait of her daughter who is following in her footsteps. A typical Imamura heroine in her earthy humour and ruthless self-interest, Madame Onboro is bigger than life. (Her brutally pragmatic comments about her American husband are hilarious.) When she shows signs of falling in love with Imamura, her interviewer, the film becomes, like A MAN VANISHES, a complex “semi-fiction.”

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Subtitles:Italian (hard)

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