Set in the post-war slums of Osaka, Oshima's follow-up and companion piece to Naked Youth, follows the lives and fates of the denizens of this hellish ghetto. Pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts, vagrants, hustlers and gangsters struggle to survive amidst the poverty and decay of 1950's Japan. Unflinching in it's portrayal of life in these slums, the film goes beyond a documentary-style realism to achieve a garish, lurid Cinemascope aesthetic that is at once repulsive and yet mesmerising. It's a pitiless and dispassionate portrait of a living hell that lurks behind the facade of a prosperous new Japan, a place where everything - food, sex, even blood - is simply a commodity to be stolen and sold.
While the title itself represents the symbolic end of the Japanese Empire, The Sun's Burial is also infused with Oshima's own growing militant politics. It is a protest not only against the (then) American military control of Japan, but also of the country's loss of national, cultural, and spiritual identity. It is the director's disgusted mockery of the nation's self-image as the "land of the rising sun" and makes this film one of the director's finest and most powerful works.
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