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The Pornographers (The Criterion Collection) (1966)

Sh˘ichi Ozawa , Sumiko Sakamoto , Sh˘hei Imamura  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sh˘ichi Ozawa, Sumiko Sakamoto, Ganjir˘ Nakamura, Ch˘ch˘ Miyako, Haruo Tanaka
  • Directors: Sh˘hei Imamura
  • Writers: Sh˘hei Imamura, Akiyuki Nosaka, Koji Numata
  • Producers: Sh˘hei Imamura, Jir˘ Tomoda, Kazuya Yamamoto
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Home Vision Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 5, 2003
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009MEA0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,179 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Pornographers (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New and Improved English Subtitle Translation

Editorial Reviews

Subu makes pornographic films. He sees nothing wrong with it. They are an aid to a repressed society, and he uses the money to support his landlady, Haru, and her family. From time to time, Haru shares her bed with Subu, though she believes her dead husband, reincarnated as a carp, disapproves. Director Shohei Imamura has always delighted in the kinky exploits of lowlifes, and in this 1966 classic, he finds subversive humor in the bizarre dynamics of Haru, her Oedipal son, and her daughter, the true object of her pornographer-boyfriend's obsession. Imamura's comic treatment of such taboos as voyeurism and incest sparked controversy when the film was released, but The Pornographers has outlasted its critics, and now seems frankly ahead of its time.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great from Imamura May 8, 2000
I would not recommend this movie if you are not a fan of either Imamura or Japanese new wave. Like most Imamura films this movie is so completely bizarre that it keeps your interest through utter fascination. Imamura says "I am interested in the lower structure of society and the lower part of the human body." This is a good summary of this movie. The lead, a pornographer believes that he is doing a favor to society by creating 16mm B&W black market porns. The most incredible scene I have ever seen on film is in this movie, a dream like sequence with surf music and a insane woman in a mental hospital are a brief description. To see this one scene is reason enough to buy this.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Before Todd Solondz and Tarantino, there was Shohei Imamura. Of course, much of the taboo material is implied rather than shown, but the comedy is indeed just as black. But perhaps the most precious aspect of this film is Imamura's style. Jump cuts, freeze frames, and other New Wave cliches missing in his later works are here in full force, contributing to the eerie beauty resulting from some interesting lighting schemes (this is a black and white film). The story concerns a middle-aged barber(think of The Eel,1997)who makes 8mm pornos. Not surprisingly, his homelife is as unconventional as his artistic endeavors, and much of the comedy stems from the follies of the latter component while tension builds form the former(his wife slowly goes insane). It is Imamura's great talent to shuttle between the two, and his later works never achieved the same level of deftness.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A queasy tale of degradation, evokes gloomy thoughts. February 29, 2008
Just describing the story of any one of Shohei Imamura's films won't be enough to convey its oddity. Imamura's films are the misfits of Japanese cinema. They deal with bizarre, marginal characters in grotesque and unusual situations. Don't expect Kurosawa's epic sweep or Ozu's understatement. Imamura's films are flamboyantly crude and bizarre. His closest analogue in Japanese literature might be Kenzaburo Oe -- Oe's short story collection Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness has a very similar tone. (And Imamura's more recent film Warm Water Under A Red Bridge is nicer than his early work, much like Oe's A Quiet Life.)

This film is about a frumpy middle-aged man named Subu who makes money by filming and selling illegal pornography. But he runs a small operation, which makes him vulnerable to just about everything. He needs to conceal his work from larger, more organized gangs, so they don't extort money from him. But of course, his work is illegal, so he can't exactly ask the law for help, either.

It's a sleazy story. The film is not the least bit titillating -- the actual pornography is never shown. Most of the plot is concerned with Subu running around trying to keep his operation afloat. He has to deal with lots of small details, like where to buy film, where to get women, how to sell the product without the mob knowing about it, and so on. It's such a mundane, slate-gray routine that it isn't even shocking.

One might be tempted to read the film as a justification of Subu -- not necessarily of Subu's work, but of Subu himself, an attempt to humanize him, in other words. Something along the lines of, "hey, this guy is engaged in illegal activities on the fringes of society, but after all he's just another poor hard-working slob, same as all of us.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Pornographers July 2, 2007
Imamura's sharp Oedipal satire was risqué and far ahead of its time in 1966, tackling themes of incest and sexual perversion in a contemporary Japanese family. Ever fascinated with the lower quarters of society and the human body, Imamura delights in registering the bizarre ways in which affection can be placed and misplaced, or simply twisted in knots, as with Haru and her too-affectionate son, Koichi. Mr. Ogata, meanwhile, looks at his blue movies as a kind of public service, and one could say the same for the director, who uses dark humor in his stylish depiction of such lurid but fondly human subject matter. Made with consummate skill by a Japanese master, The Pornographers is a seductive look at the kinks of love and longing. Still, decidedly not for all tastes.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a very young work January 16, 2004
This is a film that shows the potential of Shohei Imamura, but im afraid it does not fulfill it. The film trys to hard to be arty:the jump cuts and "creative" camera movement serve only to confuse and alienate the viewer.
Imamura is a master film maker, and this isnt a horrible film, but if you want to see his best, get "the Eel" or "warm water under a red bridge"
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Pornographers March 5, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is an awesome movie. A must see for budding cinematographers,and fans
of great film production. The story is captivating,and the acting superb.
You will never guess how it ends.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoying Life in Japan-a Traditional Export June 11, 2010
Actually, a guy called Ogata makes living by illegally producing pornographic flicks, trying to look respectfully as his personal life is an extent-or a very play ground- for his job itself: he is for step-daughter, a school-girl playing around and with him for a monetary gain, his superstitions-overvhelmed wife is in an incestuous relation with son of her from a first marriage and brother and sister are cool each to other somehow either, while colleagues do not shy from same gender relation entertainment.

A black and white movie where characters speak mostly than act explicitly.
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