Yasuzo Masumura

Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque & ACMI

Blind Beasts, Red Angels and Hoodlum Soldiers: The Irresistible Cinema of Yasuzo Masumura

Film program


Wed 4 Sep – Wed 18 Sep 2024

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Though little known internationally, Yasuzo Masumura (1924–1986) is one of the key figures to emerge from 1950s and 1960s Japanese cinema; his 55 feature films provocatively reflecting huge changes in Japanese society, culture and cinema across this era. After developing a love of cinema during his upbringing in central Japan, Masumura studied law at the University of Tokyo, after brief army service at the end of World War II, becoming a close classmate of Yukio Mishima. After undertaking a second degree in philosophy, he started work at Daiei studio before winning a scholarship to attend the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome where he received instruction from, amongst others, Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni (who would become a champion of his subsequent work). On his return in 1953, Masumura worked as assistant director on Kenji Mizoguchi’s last films and three works by Kon Ichikawa.

Masumura’s first film as director, 1957’s Kisses, set the pattern for his subsequent career as a forerunner of the “youth film”, as a conscious rejection of the work of his mentors, and in terms of its freewheeling audio-visual style. Commenting on its release, Nagisa Oshima stated that “I felt now that the tide of the new age could no longer be ignored by anyone, and that a powerful irresistible force had arrived in Japanese cinema”. This season brings together six key Masumura films made at Daiei between 1957 and 1969, highlighting his preoccupation with themes of individualism, eroticism, rebellion, the legacy of World War II, women’s rights and the darkening impact of the post-war economic “miracle”. It takes in several of Masumura’s most controversial and challenging films, such as Red Angel (1966) and Blind Beast (1969), as well as examples of his extensive and eclectic work in genre cinema: the corporate espionage tale, Black Test Car (1962), and the existential court drama, A Wife Confesses (1961).


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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Films in this program (Wed 4 Sep – Wed 18 Sep 2024)

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Australia's longest-running film society, Melbourne Cinémathèque screens significant works of international cinema in the medium they were created, the way they would have originally screened.

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