Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 34: Friday Feb 3

The Insect Woman (Imamura, 1963): ICA Cinema, 7.30pm
This film is on every night at the ICA through to February 9. Details here.

The ICA introduction: A new restored digital print of a rarely seen classic. The late great Shohei Imamura, Palme D'or winner and most consistently provocative and productive member of the Japanese New Wave made this blistering and innovative film while at the height of his powers. Imamura saw himself as much as an anthropologist as a story-teller famously stating "I like to make messy films . . . I am interested in the relationship of the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure . . .  I ask myself what differentiates humans from other animals. What is a human being?"

This is The Story of Film author Mark Cousins' favourite film and here he explains why:

'The Insect Woman, by Imamura Shohei, isn't all that well known, but should be. It's about a lower class Japanese woman who struggles through life, has a child, and works as a maid for a posher woman. It's shocking - at one point the Japanese woman seems to suckle her dad. In another, we see a child scald herself with boiling soup. But there are two reasons why I love it. Firstly, its style. The Insect Woman is one of the most beautiful films ever made. It's shot very widescreen, and the compositions are breathtaking. The scalding scene is done in two amazing shots, one far away from the kid, one from above the stove, with the child out of focus below. The second reason I like it is because of what it says about people. The first shot is an insect scuttling across the land. Then we cut to the woman doing the same. For the rest of the film she scuttles, feral, determined not to give up. To use an insect as a metaphor for a woman is unflattering in a way, but Imamura loves her for her unstoppability, her survival instinct, her glorious forward propulsion. The film moves me to tears and thrills me with its pictorial beauty.'

Here is the trailer.

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