On the occasion of 100 years since the birth of singular Japanese director Seijun Suzuki (1923-2017), the Asian Film Archive presents a selection from his vast and colourful filmography.
The seven featured films draw attention to two significant points in Suzuki's career. The first looks at the gritty, rambunctious crime and gangster films he made at the Nikkatsu studios in the 1960s and his collaborations with action star Jo Shishido. The four works selected from this period start from 1963, with the wild and uproarious Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell, Bastards! and Youth of the Beast—the latter regarded as his breakthrough work and a key influence on the yakuza genre. 1964's Gate of Flesh is a harsh, yet visually dynamic post-war drama. Lastly, the outrageous and stylish Branded to Kill (1967), notorious for causing Suzuki's dismissal from Nikkatsu and subsequent blacklisting by the industry.
The second part of this programme represents Suzuki's comeback with the Taisho trilogy: Zigeunerweisen (1980), Kagero-za (1981) and Yumeji (1991). Produced independently, these works are loosely connected by being set during the Taisho era (1912-1926), an explosive period of artistic and intellectual activity in Japan's history. Hallucinatory, spectral and dreamlike, these austere masterpieces—markedly different from his earlier career—are nonetheless still bursting with ideas and cinematic fervour.
Retrospective: Seijun Suzuki runs from 6-22 October 2023 at Oldham Theatre. This programme is held in conjunction with Japanese Film Festival Singapore, with support from the Japan Foundation.