Action / Drama / History / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Fresh71%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright71%
IMDb Rating0.0100

male homosexuality

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Tadanobu Asano Photo
Tadanobu Asano as Samurai Hyozo Tashiro
Takeshi Kitano Photo
Takeshi Kitano as Captain Toshizo Hijikata
922.62 MB
Japanese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 40 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by TATBOY10 / 10

An Exquisite travelogue to another place, time, and culture

Nagisa Oshima's work is always visually exquisite. He has that finely honed, generations-old Japanese eye for detail which has served his artistry well over the last 50 years. It reveals itself to be the difference in the world of film that a Monet, Michelangelo, or Van Gogh is to sidewalk chalk drawings.

Decades ago, Oshima set out explore new territories, to leave formula and standard, approved plot progressions behind and delve into the deeper recesses of the human experience. What comes out of that are works of storytelling which require more attention and involvement on the part of the viewer than your typical Michael Bay or Renny Harlin flick. Not that pure escapist entertainment is a bad thing; far from it. But you don't generally come away from one of those features wanting to go sit at a table with your friends, staying up to the wee hours discussing what you've just seen and all the ramifications of each scene. In simpler terms, they don't enrich your intellect! (I think even Bay?s and Harlin?s most ardent fans can agree with me on that part :-) ).

"Gohatto" is the Japanese word meaning "Taboo" in its simplest form, so you know going in your about to see something out of the ordinary. Oshima has long had a fascination with the dichotomies in Japanese culture (and frankly most cultures) between how behavior is proscribed and how the more primal, instinctual urges (mostly sex) always find their way to the surface in spite of those mores. Oshima has also found a fascination in seeing how both Western and Eastern cultures have, at one time or another (or more than one),put strict moral taboos on homosexuality, adultery, and even on prostitution, but these strictures have never eliminated or even slowed down their existence.

"Gohatto" takes us into a world 150 years ago where such things don't exist on the surface but are fully integrated into what is real life just beneath. Whether such subject matter, or exploring Eastern cultures, particularly interests you or not, if you're interested in being challenged by the art that you see, "Gohatto" (like Peter Greenaway's recent "The Pillow Book") is a must-see film.

Reviewed by FilmFlaneur8 / 10

Go see Gohatto

Oshima's first film in 14 years after illness was apparently directed from a wheel chair, and it's tempting to locate some of its static, formal qualities in the personal restrictions faced by the director. But this cool, intense, and very Japanese piece is stylistically rooted in the country's cinematic past, while at the same time offering provocative work familiar characteristic of this director. In his most famous film, Realm Of The Senses (aka: Ai No Corrida),made 25 years ago, dangerous sexual activity was explicit. In Gohatto (trans: Taboo),things are far less in the open. The expression of sex has been replaced with its obsession although, for Oshima, the irrationality of arousal still remains anti-authoritarian, as it creates impulses that are hard to resist.

For those more used to the straight samurai of old, Oshima's suggestions of cuddles beneath the kimono is a surprise (more outrage was generated in Japan, where it was felt more strongly that such suggestions ran against a proud tradition). One can never imagine stouthearted Toshiro Mifune, the most famous cinematic samurai from the previous generation, falling for another soldier and interrupting his role in Seven Samurai for a romp in the dojo. Cult actor/director 'Beat' Takeshi, here playing Captain Toshizo Hijikata, seems at first sight an odd choice for this sort of drama too, until one remembers the gay gunman he played so convincingly in Takashi Ishii's Gonin (1995). With his impassive face he reduces introspection to the reoccurring flicker of his (real life) tic, which, most aptly here, can suggest everything and nothing. Hijikata's internal narrative, first quizzical about Sozabura's lovers then perturbed about his effect on the garrison, suggests growing doubts resolved only in the final, memorable scene.

In Gohatto, much of the interest of the film lays in the degree in which Sozaburo's beauty arouses the interest of the men around him. Some are openly attracted to him (notably Tashiro, who shortly attempts to climb into the bed with him). Others are on the edge, like Inspector Yamazaki, charged with taking him to the brothel in Shimabara to introduce the youth to women. Most are affected in one way or another; most enigmatically are Hojikata and his superior and close colleague Commander Kondo (Yoichi Sai). As Hojikata observes, "a samurai can be undone by a love of men." But then he wonders too "Why are we both so indulgent with Sozabura?" and Kondo's rectitude and conspicuous silence hides, we suspect, a greater interest in the youth than he might wish to admit.

Oshima's visual scheme creates a film full of the bare, dark wood interiors of the militia base and the mud brown of uniforms, where just a few significant colours stand out. During the early beheading of the renegade samurai by Sozabuta, it is the red splash of the executed man's blood. At other times, Sozabuta wears a unique white robe (the Japanese colour of death). His is a presence and beauty shortly associated with a form of annihilation. In a place full of military men, that we see this feminine youth kill most often is no surprise. Compared to his contemporaries, he is the most adept at the sword unless fazed by romantic entanglements. It's an obvious irony that the object of homosexual affection is also the most deadly of the men; there's more in the fact that a group of iron-hearted soldiers can be so easily divided by an 'enemy' within, one neither fierce nor commanding.

There's another mystery in Gohatto, besides who exactly is sleeping with Sozabuta and who wants to. It's who is the murderer of Yuzawa (Tomorowo Taguchi),and doubts as to the truth of the case persist. This, and the attempt to apprehend the intruders at the base ("they call these samurai?") provide the main impetus of the plot. Like so many great Japanese films of the past, Oshima's says a lot in restraint. Here the arrangement of seated figures within the frame can suggest unspoken tensions, order is paramount, and the use of the camera is elegant and discreet. Some see the resulting style dull, when it is a slower, more contemplative way of seeing the world, one where not every question is answered.

What exactly is 'taboo' in Gohatto is clearly the issue of homosexuality - although confusingly for Western audiences such matters are not explicitly forbidden. Reference is made to the military code, which hangs on the barrack walls. Extracts appear on screen too, but no mention is made of prohibiting gay relations between soldiers. A man may be beheaded for illicitly borrowing money, but sleeping with his comrades at arms, while gossip worthy, is only really of concern when discipline is threatened. There "no secrets on Heaven and Earth (and) everyone knows it," says one of the intertitles, and Hojikata himself refers to the "tacit understanding" which normally keeps things in check. A policy which roughly equates to the modern American army's own "Don't ask, don't tell."

The film is helped immensely by Ryuichi Sakamoto's incessant, metronomic score, the steady beat of which considerably amplifies the obsessions and drawn out tensions of events. Like Oshima's interiors, it is uncluttered music, the muted colours dashed with an occasional significant tone. Now and again, urgency and violence break into this world: the initial beheading scene, the murderer's attacks, or the sword battle by the river. As a package, the result readily deserves art house admirers - especially as the director saves the best scene for last, expressing both Hojikata's final position, and a main thread of Gohatto, with hardly a cut more than necessary. Recommended.

Reviewed by kaos-238 / 10

Visually stunning, oddly gripping film

I happened to catch this film on BBC4 last night. My attention was immediately caught by the stunning Japanese setting, and as the film progressed, by the unusual storyline.

This film is about the Shinsen militia: a group of samurai in shogun times. The story explores the homoerotic tensions between the men, as well as the conflict with another militia (group of samurai).

In a way, not much happens in the film, but at the same time, it is fascinating from beginning to end. Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano gives an impressive performance as one of the older samurai, and in fact all the actors are very good.

While the overall atmosphere of the film is quite dark, there are many funny moments which lift the mood. The humour is quite subtle - no slapstick here.

The film is visually stunning, with wonderful use of light and colour to emphasise the mood of each scene. The Japanese mountains, lakes, and buildings look gorgeous.

There are some moments in the film which are quite graphic, both sex and violence. However, this is not done in a gratuitous or grotesque way, and I didn't find it offensive.

Overall, as another reviewer has commented, this film is somewhat cold. Despite the powerful events that happen in the film, they don't really emotionally involve you as a viewer. The film almost feels like a parable rather than a 'realistic' story.

In summary, this is a gorgeous-looking film with an unusual subject matter, which is well worth watching.

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