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Kamigami no fukaki yokubô AKA Profound Desires of the Gods (1968) Film of the Week #296

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Cocoa
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Kamigami no fukaki yokubô AKA Profound Desires of the Gods (1968) Film of the Week #296

#1

Post by Cocoa » September 1st, 2019, 2:40 pm

Film of the Week #296: Kamigami no fukaki yokubô AKA Profound Desires of the Gods (1968)

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Summary:
An engineer from Tokyo arrives on a drought-ridden tropical island to drill a well to power a nearby sugar mill. He meets the inbred Futori family, hated by the locals for breaking religious customs.

Info/Links:
#162 on 500<400, with 326 checks.
Nominated by Armoreska, Minkin, and xianjiro.
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From the 500<400 resultsShow
#162(⇧38, #200) Kamigami no fukaki yokubô (1968)
[Profound Desires of the Gods]

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Directed by: Shôhei Imamura
(465.93 Pts, 12 Votes) , Top 1–10–50: 1–2–3
History: 162200574714372←471
ICheckMovies: 284 Checks , 41 Favourites , 5 Official lists
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flaiky (1)
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zuma (79)
Mate_cosido (86)
Armoreska (104)
AdamH (157)
jeroeno (158)
beavis (182)
cinephage (209)
Perception de Ambiguity (1690)

This movie fits the current Japan Challenge.



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Cocoa
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#2

Post by Cocoa » September 6th, 2019, 10:42 pm

I was hoping someone, anyone, would say something about this film. I was planning on not commenting on this film because I saw it last year and don't remember much about it, but it's Friday for me and Saturday for some others, and I would like there to be at least one response in this thread even if it's just my own :lol:

Anyways, I saw this film last year. I remember being bored by this film. It's nearly three hours long, although the length wasn't why I was bored, but the length didn't help. Maybe there was a pacing issue with the film or it didn't need to be that long, I don't remember. What I do remember is that I didn't like (/wasn't impressed with) how they handled the subject matter. Although, I don't actually remember how they handled the subject matter, I just remember that I thought they could have done a lot better. The cinematography of the film was poorly done if I remember correctly. My eyes were bored and my mind was bored. Not a fun combination.

Again, I don't remember much about this film besides how bored I was. I rated it 5/10 so it wasn't the worst film I ever watched, it's just in that average meh category for me. It's on Doubling the Canon and at #162 on 500<400 (and on three other official lists), so some people like this film... they just aren't posting in this thread :ph43r: So if anyone has something nice to say about this film, go for it. If anyone does not feel like posting because they don't have nice things to say or don't remember anything, I understand completely.

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#3

Post by xianjiro » September 7th, 2019, 8:40 am

Geesh! Impatient much?

And besides, you couldn't be bigly wronger!

Yes, it's a bit slow/hard to get your feet on the ground, I mean with characters running around talking about how much they love their brother-husband and sister-wife and all. A guy's chained up in a pit digging under a huge rock, except he really isn't. It goes on from there.

I have to wonder how Japanese audiences took to this film - it is and it isn't about Japan - after all the fictitious Kurage Island sits well to the south of Okinawa and even in Japan, Okinawa is and isn't Japan. It's a distinct culture. But then it isn't. Get the picture? So this is a film about the collision of ancient and modern set in a place that feels both like the mainland and decidedly not - plausible deniability maybe?

When we'd ask our Japanese students about their religions, most would say they weren't very religious, but of course, Westerners make the same claims and set up a nativity scene at Christmas. Religion is at the very heart of culture and traditions, so much so that we all tend to lose perspective. We go through the motions of hiding eggs for the kids and tell them that some bunny left them before heading to a celebration of the resurrection. So, especially outside the urban centers (and much of Japan) people continue to observe an amalgam of spiritual beliefs and cultural practices handed down for generations. Where else is one of the holiest buildings in the country torn down every twenty years right after the spirit/goddess has moved into it's identical twin structure for the next twenty? And they've been doing this for longer than 'civilized peoples' have been building cathedrals. A LOT LONGER.

So this isn't really just about an incestuous family on a remote island, it's also about Japan's foundation mythology where god/spirit siblings are rocky outcrops tied together by a sacred rope. But on Kuragejima, the people are very aware of their connection to the past and in other parts of Japane, people really do venerate natural phenomena that look like human genitalia and I've watched grown women climb through split tree trunks because they hope to conceive soon. It's a land where fertility rites are observed alongside modern agricultural practices and where the family has a whole host of duties to their departed ancestors (who return during a summer festival and need to be fed and entertained).

So yes, this is a movie about a modernizing Japan still steeped in traditions so old they are lost in prehistory.

Okay, so if one takes all that into seeing a movie like this, it's really working on a whole different level than the apparent craziness of chained up family members atoning for sins. I was totally lost in the world Imamura created and spent a lot of time wondering what life was really like on these islands distant from the Big Umeboshi. One thing I found particularly surprising, even given the less than ideal file I had to view, was the cinematography. It didn't feel at all like a film from the late 60s color wise. If I hadn't known, I'd have sworn this was made in the 90s. Set design was great, with fine acting, and music cues that both echoed traditional Ryukyu Island music while at times making one feel just off center - you know, like the movie.

While some might feel some acting over the top - especially Toriko (which might translate as chicken-girl or bird-girl), who is clearly developmentally disabled (or, in previous eras the idiot offspring of a incestuous relationship) until she becomes possessed of the spirit and mouthpiece for the ancestor/gods/spirits. But it could also be said that Okiyama-san was really into her character in that rather avant garde Japanese way that many Westerners only associate with Yoko Ono.

There are some plotting questions I have that I think will eventually result in a rewatch. I didn't quite get why Mr Engineer rebuffed one woman's advances only to fall madly, deeply for another. Then there was the enterprising son who desperately wanted off the island to see the lights of the Big Umeboshi only to realize
SpoilerShow
he needed to return to the island to think about things and to understand why
.

Yes, at just under three hours this is on the longish side but it's still not Satantango (and I thought a whole lot more interesting). Wish it could be said that one could enjoy this movie without some hours/years of prior study of Japanese religion, traditions, culture, and history - but how can I possibly comment on what I don't know? Though I'll be the first to say my studies have only scratched at such a complex topic.

Had no problem giving this 9/10, but that said, I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone. (D:)

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#4

Post by Armoreska » September 7th, 2019, 1:13 pm

one of the movies I nominated koz i liked it much
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currently working towards a vegan/low waste world + thru such film lists (besides TV): ANARCHISTS, 2010s bests, RW Fassbinder, Yasujiro Ozu, Eric Rohmer, Visual Effects nominees, kid-related stuff, great animes (mini-serie or feature), very 80s movies, 17+ sci-fi lists on watchlist, ENVIRO, remarkable Silent Films and Pre-Code (exploring 1925 atm) and every shorts and docu list I'm aware of and
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1434
and "Gordon" Liu Chia-Hui/Liu Chia-Liang and Yuen Woo-ping and "Sammo" Hung Kam-bo

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#5

Post by hurluberlu » September 8th, 2019, 7:08 pm

It can be a tough watch because it is long and does keep swapping from one genre to another - sometimes close to an ethnographic documentary, at others social satire or burlesque. But it is a very ambitious film with gorgeous cinematography and a must-see if you love Japanese cinema.
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