Action, Anarchy, and Audacity: A Seijun Suzuki Retrospective

  • April 8, 2016 — April 29, 2016

In a career spanning nearly five decades, Seijun Suzuki amassed a body of work ranging from B-movie potboilers to beguiling metaphysical mysteries. An extremely inventive filmmaker, Suzuki utilized a wide range of film stocks, angles, jump cuts, impressionistic sets, driving jazz soundtracks, and unhinged actors pushed to their limits—and was thus at the vanguard of a new, radical Japanese cinema which flowered in the late 1950s and 1960s, one which continues to hold sway with a new generation of filmmakers who continue to push the boundaries of the medium. “To experience a film by Japanese B-movie visionary Seijun Suzuki is to experience Japanese cinema in all its frenzied, voluptuous excess.”—Manohla Dargis.

JF-jpegProgram notes by Tom Vick, Curator of Film at the Smithsonian’s Freer | Sackler Museums of Asian Art and author of Time and Space are Nonsense: The Films of Seijun Suzuki (2015).

Action, Anarchy, and Audacity is co-organized and co-presented by the Japan Foundation.

Branded to Kill

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

This fractured film noir is the final provocation that got Suzuki fired from Nikkatsu Studios, simultaneously making him a counterculture

Carmen from Kawachi

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

A 1960s riff on the opera Carmen (including a rock version of its famous aria “Habanero”), this picaresque tale sends

Gate of Flesh

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Part social realist drama, part sadomasochistic trash opera, Gate of Flesh paints a dog-eat-dog portrait of postwar Tokyo. The film

Kagero-za

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

According to film critic Tony Rayns, Kagero-za “may well be Suzuki’s finest achievement outside the constraints of genre filmmaking.” In

Kanto Wanderer

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Based on a book by Taiko Hirabayashi, one of Japan’s most famous female novelists, Kanto Wanderer puts a Suzukian spin

Passport to Darkness

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

In this stylish film noir, a trombonist goes on an all-night bender after his wife disappears during their honeymoon. When

Smashing the O-Line

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

This crime thriller features one of the most nihilist characters in Suzuki’s early films: Katiri, a reporter so ambitiously amoral

Tattooed Life

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Set in the 1930s, Tattooed Life is the story of two brothers: Kenji, an art student, and Tetsu, who is

The Call of Blood

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Though Suzuki created it in the midst of his stylistic breakthrough, The Call of Blood has never received the same

The Sleeping Beast Within

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

A businessman vanishes upon his return from an overseas trip, and his daughter hires a reporter to help find him.

Tokyo Drifter

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Tasked with making a vehicle for actor/singer Tetsuya Watari to croon the title song, Suzuki concocted this crazy yarn about

Youth of the Beast

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Suzuki himself claims that 1963 was the year when he truly came into his own, and Youth of the Beast

Yumeji

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Made ten years after its predecessor, the final film in the Taisho Trilogy spins a fantastical tale from the life

Zigeunerweisen

Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Named the best film of the 1980s in a poll of Japanese film critics, Zigeunerweisen takes its title from a