The Taisho Trilogy (15) | Home Ents Review

Dir. Seijun Suzuki, Japan, 1980, 1981, 1991, 350 mins approx, subtitled.

Cast: Yoshio Harada, Naoko Ôtani, Kisako Makishi

Review by Colin Dibben

Oneiric, uncanny and disconcertingly weird, these three later films from the legendary director of ultra-slick 60s gangster film Branded to Kill act on you like too long in a flotation tank.

All three cryptic supernatural dramas are set during the liberal enlightenment of Japan’s Taisho Era, 1912 to 1926.

In the multiple Japanese Academy Award-winning Zigeunerweisen (1980), two intellectuals and former colleagues from military academy involve their wives in a series of dangerous sexual games.

In Kageroza (1981), a playwright is drawn like a moth to a flame to a mysterious beauty who might be a ghost, while Yumeji (1991) imagines the real-life painter-poet Takehisa Yumeji’s encounter with a beautiful widow with a dark past.

I can’t remember the last time I was so intrigued by films this dumbfounding. I had no idea what was going on some of the time in these three films, but they are so beautifully shot and the visual non-sequiturs are so arresting that it’s easy to like them, once you have accustomed yourself to their quiet, dreamlike mood.

You find yourself drifting off into reverie that’s directed by the film elements and the intensity makes you receptive to details such as a musical refrain in Yumeji that crops up in Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood for Love eight years later.

Director Suzuki died in February this year and this special edition is a fitting tribute.

The Taisho Trilogy is out in a dual format edition on 17 Jul

Colin Dibben

Author: Colin Dibben

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