chapter  17
11 Pages

Unsettled Visions: Imamura Sho¯hei’s Vengeance is Mine (1979)

ByALASTAIR PHILLIPS

Imamura Sho¯hei once said to the poet Sugiyama Heiichi that he wanted to ‘make messy, really human, Japanese, unsettling films’ (quoted in Richie 1997: 31). His obsessive and visually intricate explorations of what he has termed ‘the relationship of the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure on which the reality of daily Japanese life supports itself ’ (17) certainly propose a provocative association between the unreliable nature of ordinary cinematic representation and the insecurities behind conventional Japanese social organisation. This chapter will argue that the distinctively interwoven relationship between the visual and the social in Imamura’s cinema is especially evident in the case of one of his greatest commercial successes, Vengeance is Mine (Fukushu¯ suru wa ware ni ari, 1979 – hereafter Vengeance).