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Fruits of Passion

Shūji Terayama
Shanghai Ijin Shōkan - China Doll
Japan, France 1981 / 83’
Les Chants de Maldoror Farewell to the Ark

Another Japanese–French co-production for Terayama following Grass Labyrinth. Loosely based on Pauline Réage’s novel Retour à Roissy (a continuation of the infamous Story of O), it revolves around themes of sadomasochistic fantasies and practices that the Japanese director developed earlier in his stage plays (Directions to Servants, La Marie-Vision and Jashumon), with references to Antoine Artaud’s theory of the theater of cruelty. The action is moved to Shanghai in the second half of the 1920s, a time of territorial concessions and political chaos. Sir Stephen (Klaus Kinski) locks up the adoring O (Isabelle Illiers) in a Chinese brothel, demanding proof of her total obedience and submission and exposing her to a series of degrading sexual acts, which she accepts with total subservience, like a sort of object. Terayama’s decadent empire of the senses is embellished by the baroque aesthetics of Chinese costumes and the psychedelic music of J.A. Seazar.

Nikodem Karolak

Shūji Terayama

(1935-1983), one of the most prominent avant-garde reformers of Japanese cinema and theater. He became an unrivaled intellectual, nonconformist and unyielding fanatic, as well as an artist who was deemed scandalous and subversive, an enfant terrible, who managed to revise his native tradition. Famous internationally primarily as the founder of the legendary alternative Tenjō Sajiki theater, he directed a series of films with strong autobiographical themes, including a counter-cultural manifesto based on the collage method Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets, or Death in the Country, which critics compared and contrasted to Federico Fellini's  Eight and a Half, and near the end of his life to create his own version of Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in Farewell to the Ark, where Macondo culture permeates Japanese myths and beliefs. As a total artist, Terayama not only mixed different genres and conventions, but combined the cinema with theater, destroying the "fourth wall" between the viewer and the artist.

Selected filmography

1971 Rzućmy książki, wyjdźmy na ulice! / Sho o suteyo machi e deyō / Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets

1974 Wiejska ciuciubabka / Den'en ni shisu / Pastoral: To Die in the Country (aka Pastoral Hide and Seek)

1977 Bokser / Bokusā / Boxer

1981 Owoce namiętności / Shanhai Ijin Shōkan / Fruits of Passion

1984 Żegnaj, Arko! / Saraba hakobune / Farewell to the Ark

Cast & Crew

director Shūji Terayama
screenplay Shūji Terayama, Rio Kishida
cinematography Tatsuo Suzuki
editing Henri Colpi
music J.A. Seazer
cast Isabelle Illiers, Klaus Kinski, Arielle Dombasle, Pītā, Keiko Niitaka, Sayoko Yamaguchi
producer Anatole Dauman, Hiroko Govers, Eiko Kujō
production Argos Films, Jinriki Hikōki Sha
sales Tamasa
language French, Japanese, English, Cantonese
colouration colour