Saturday, August 15, 2020

Story of a Prostitute


Story of a Prostitute [Shunpū-den, 1965] operates full circle: beginning in a carbonic wasteland set in north China (the Manchurian conflict), ending on the images of similar wasted plains seen through the gate of a Japanese military compound, with the prostitute Harumi's (Yumiko Nagawa of Gate of Flesh) presence that of a wandering ghost both times. Her having gone to China to service the men, Harumi's experience, existential, is that of a dreamscape — stranded without apparent reason, no direction home, an absence of sexually transmitted disease. Spectre-like, she's trapped between two realms: China and Japan, differing expectations of honor between man and woman. A cry is rendered in an extreme staggered step-process that does not so much foreshadow Wong Kar-wai as it does harken back to Chris Marker's roman-photo La jetée. A scream, silently. Back-and-forth: the Chinese and the Japanese are almost indistinguishable in their uniforms and cruelty. Individuality is de-pronounced as it vies for attention with pools of light in the high-contrast black-and-white cinematography of Kazue Nagatsuka.

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