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A shocking and controversial masterpiece, Yasuzo Masumura?s no-bullshit antiwar film tells of an army nurse (Mizoguchi discovery and Masumura regular Ayako Wakao) in the Sino-Japanese war who sexually services an amputee and falls in love with a drug-addicted surgeon. Shot in black-and-white 'Scope, this 1966 feature can?t be recommended to the squeamish or to viewers bound to the politically correct, but neither its nuanced eroticism nor its passionate, unpredictable moral focus can be easily shaken off. Roughly contemporary with M*A*S*H (as in Altman?s film, scenes of war-front surgery provide a corollary to Vietnam), it sometimes suggests a less comic treatment of the same theme—how to preserve one's humanity amid impossible circumstances—but its ethics are considerably more developed.

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