An award-winning provocateur who challenged censors but found a devoted following, Japanese director Nagisa Oshima has sadly passed away at the age of 80.
A law student before turning to film, from the start Oshima was pushing the envelope, with his third feature “Night And Fog In Japan” removed from circulation after only three days in release, with concerns that it would cause political “unrest.” But it would be two pictures directed in the 1970s that would bring the director the most print and notoriety. “In The Realm Of The Senses” shocked with its unsimulated sex scenes, in the tale of an obsessive love affair, while “Empire Of Passion” was also intense in its depiction of desire, but also earned him accolades, including a Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
From there, Oshima moved on to another career highlight, the WWII tale “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” featuring David Bowie and composer/actor/rock star Ryuchi Sakamoto in the story of a British officer in a Japanese POW camp. And as usual, Oshima kept on surprising, and certainly kept everyone their toes with 1986’s “Max, Mon Amour” starring Charlotte Rampling and a chimpanzee.
Oshima’s last picture was 1999’s gay samurai drama “Taboo.” After several strokes he unfortunately remained in ill health and was unable to make any more films. “My father died calmly,” said the director’s younger son, Arata. “He was with members of his family, wife Akiko and elder son Takeshi. I wasn’t there. My father had been in hospital since late last year and died of pneumonia.” His cinematic voice will certainly be missed. Trailers for some of his films below along with an interivew he conducted with Akira Kurosawa in 1993. [Guardian/Straits Times]