Two brothers vie for the affections of the same woman in Kō Nakahira’s seminal – and scandalous – Sun Tribe film of 1956.
Adapted from the controversial novel by Shintarô Ishihara, and critically savaged for its lurid portrayal of the post-war sexual revolution among Japan’s young and privileged, Crazed Fruit is an anarchic outcry against tradition and the older generation.
Haruji (Masahiko Tsugawa) and his older brother Natsuhisa (Yûjirô Ishihara) are set for a Summer of water-skiing, gambling and clubbing with a gang of Natsu’s friends staying at the villa of their worldly friend, Frank. Haru may be younger and inexperienced, but he isn’t too impressed by the chauvinist antics of Natsu and the others. While Natsu and his friends look for ways to appease their boredom and restlessness, Haru quietly pursues a friendship with the mysterious Eri (Mie Kitahara).
Also known as ‘Juvenile Jungle’, Crazed Fruit is one of the best-known Sun Tribe (taiyozoku) films – a term used to describe a lost, restless post-war generation of Japanese youth in the wake of Japan’s defeat in WWII that became a term applied to a sub-set of Japanese films from the 1950s and ‘60s that incorporated this subtext in racy narratives of misspent youth and socially regressive behaviour. In an explosive scene early in the film, Kō Nakahira has his young cast explicitly express this volatile, misdirected energy in a series of tightly framed close ups in which Natsu and the others loudly reject the status quo, setting the tone for the action that follows. Mie Kitahara has great expressive range in the role of Eri – the object of both boys’ desire – in a controversial role that challenged simplistic portrayals of young womanhood in an increasingly modern and westernised Japan.
– Roberta Ciabarra; Curator, Film
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