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Crazed Fruit (The Criterion Collection)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Masahiko Tsugawa, Yûjirô Ishihara, Mie Kitahara, Atsuko Akashi, Yôko Benisawa
  • Directors: Kô Nakahira
  • Writers: Shintarô Ishihara
  • Producers: Takiko Mizunoe
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: June 28, 2005
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00092ZLG2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,175 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Crazed Fruit (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by renowned Japanese-film scholar Donald Richie
  • New essay by film scholar Michael Raines

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Two brothers compete for the amorous favors of a young woman during a seaside summer of gambling, boating, and drinking in the seminal "sun tribe" (taiyozoku) film from director Ko Nakahira. Adapted from the controversial novel by Shintaro Ishihara—and critically savaged for its lurid portrayal of post war sexual revolution among Japan's young and privileged—Crazed Fruit is an anarchic outcry against tradition and the older generation.


Crazed Fruit ushered in a new era for Japanese cinema. Shot in 17 days (extravagant by Nikkatsu Studio standards), the film's strong language, intimations of casual sex, and complete disregard for authority, would unsettle an entire nation, while blazing a path for the likes of Seijun Suzuki and Nagisa Oshima. (Even François Truffaut was impressed.) It begins one leisurely summer as brothers Natsuhisa (Yujiro Ishihara) and Haruji (Oshima star Masahiko Tsugawa) sail, water-ski, and make "boredom their credo''--until both fall for the married Eri (Ishihara’s future wife, Mie Kitahara). In short order, boredom will be replaced by tragedy. Inventively lensed by Shigeyoshi Mine (Tokyo Drifter), Ko Nakahira's controversial debut was the centerpiece of a 1956 trio of taiyozoku, or "Sun Tribe," films about affluent youth written by novelist-turned-politician Shintaro Ishihara (Yujiro's brother). The suitably dark and jazzy score is by Kurosawa vets Masaru Sato (Yojimbo) and Toru Takemitsu (Ran). --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

From the opening credits swooning to a slack-key guitar, this must have really been something in its day.
C.J. Hustwick
This story, a tad homoerotic and (unbeknownst) told in flashback, may be cliché but the details were new to Japanese audiences (water-skiing!
Vince Perrin
In the boat there is a young man, a product of the society, if you will, enlightened by older generations.
A Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 23, 2005
Format: DVD
It's ironic that this movie has an establishing scene in the Kamakura train station, the same locale used by master director Yasujiro Ozu in his classic home dramas, "Late Spring" and "Early Summer". But that's where the similarity ends, as this jazz-infused, troubled-youth 1956 film is truly the antithesis of Ozu - tawdry, explicit and in-your-face. If you were to watch this movie solely on the basis of the campy trailer that comes with the Criterion Collection DVD, you would think you were going to watch something quite cheesy and exploitative similar to the cheapjack American teenage rebellion films of the period like "High School Confidential" and "The Beat Generation" - all raging hormones, James Dean wannabes, pervasive use of back projection, deep shadows and saucy saxophone riffs. To some degree, you would be right, but first-time director Kô Nakahira seems more inspired by French New Wave in his use of jump cuts and handheld camera shots. The stylistic touches and then-shocking sexual frankness do elevate this low-budget film but from my perspective, not really at the level that film scholar Donald Richie would have you believe in his informative commentary.

The story revolves around two restless brothers - older, predatory Natsuhisa and virginal, self-righteous Haruji - who battle over a mysterious girl named Eri, seemingly innocent and ideal at first but a more decadent character emerges as the plot unfolds. There are lots of scenes of bored, immoral youth with cash to burn and no aspirations beyond water skiing and getting drunk and laid. The love triangle inevitably leads to tragic, almost Baroque consequences in its brief, 86-minute running time with some surprisingly effective camera angles tightening the vise of the characters' illicit behavior.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Thomas D. Feeps on September 8, 2006
Format: DVD
This review is for the Criterion Collection Edition:

I won't go into the plot, since that seems to have been covered fairly accurately and completely by others. I will say that within moments of watching the open scene with Haruji speeding along in his boat, the jazzy background music playing in the background, I was hooked. The movie is full of fascinating camera movements, music, and acting. The characters are selfish, decadent, and rebellious... and yet we somehow feel sympathetic for them, even before it leads to disaster.

I was certain I'd go searching for more films by Director Ko Nakahira, but according to the fantastic commentary by Donald Richie, after this commercially and critically successful film, he was forced to make standard dribble by the studios. That's a shame, because this is a film where he obviously took risks with the camera, dialogue, and sexual innnuendo. Richie's commentary helps the Western viewer put a lot of the movie into context, explaining Japanese social and film-making trends at the time as well the fate of the major actors. I was dying to know why the car was right hand-drive though, and he never answered that one!

The essays included in the Criterion set are also insightful for putting the movie into context, although none of this "context placing" material is necessary. Watch the movie and you'll find yourself feeling nostalgic for the late 50's in Japan--a time and place I doubt most knew about before.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Vince Perrin on August 14, 2005
Format: DVD
Before this movie, anti-social behavior, defiance of authority, family dysfunction, dissolute youth, unpunished violence, immorality and sexual promiscuity, even kissing, were not seen on Japanese screens. So in 1956 when it was released, just as James Dean was rebelling in America and the New Wave washing over Europe, "Crazed Fruit" became a cause celebre in Japan, filling theatres, creating a short-lived genre and influencing future filmmakers. Seen today, we may appreciate its "daring" attitudes, editing and cinematography while at the same time containing our impatience as all the familiarities play themselves out.

At a seaside resort, a jaded youth and his innocent brother lust after a young woman who is married to an older American and who is a human cypher. The brotherly triangle is resolved with two murders, but not before a really chilling sequence in which a speedboat repeatedly circles a sailboat. This story, a tad homoerotic and (unbeknownst) told in flashback, may be cliché but the details were new to Japanese audiences (water-skiing! sunbathing! pair dancing!) and owe much to European and American movies; note the homages to George Stevens' "A Place in the Sun" (water sports, sudden swooping close-ups, that radio on the dock.)

By issuing this DVD, The Criterion Collection rightly assigns the picture its proper place in the pantheon of world cinema. Film historian Donald Richie, in his informed commentary, maybe makes more of its relevance than the movie actually earns; a second viewing with Richie is oddly more rewarding than a first viewing without him. That's because period context is crucial to our interest. "Crazed Fruit" was a breakthrough in the evolution of Japanese filmmaking; thanks to it, the movies that came after were more complex, innovative and sophisticated.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By D. Thomas Hardison on August 16, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Having lived in Japan for seven years, and taught at a fine University during that time, I saw many young people who were on the fringe of society....even now, and it was unnerving to see the total disregard for others in this film so early after the war. That attitude is still prevalent in Japan.

The fact that the attitude seems rather universal in Western societies, and increasingly all Asian societies as well, the young people grow into adulthood, keeping their adolescence.

It surely fosters the ME, ME, ME behavior and makes real human compassion difficult in light of this obsessive selfishness.

I cringe at some of the scenes in the film because it is such raw reality. Beautiful people doing not so beautiful things,

is a fascination for many people, so I think the film will be an interesting wake up call for our present time.
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