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One of Nagisa Oshima's very best, this 1968 Japanese feature is concerned with the death penalty and the public understanding of a rape and murder committed by a Korean youth. The inventiveness of the staging is not merely dazzling but purposeful: a group of Japanese officials discover, through a fantasy conceit, that the Korean prisoner refuses to die because the issues of his crime and his punishments aren't understood, and the film works through a series of imaginative restagings of the events leading up to the rape and murder. (The issue of Japanese persecution of Koreans is also very pertinent to the proceedings.) The results are Brechtian in the best sense: entertaining, instructive, gripping, mind-boggling, often humorous, and very much alive. In Japanese with subtitles.

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