Nagisa Oshima

Death by Hanging

Death by Hanging

Genius provocateur Nagisa Oshima, an influential figure in the Japanese New Wave of the 1960s, made one of his most startling political statements with the compelling pitch-black satire Death by Hanging. In this macabre farce, a Korean man is sentenced to death in Japan but survives his execution, sending the authorities into a panic about what to do next. At once disturbing and oddly amusing, Oshima’s constantly surprising film is a subversive and surreal indictment of both capital punishment and the treatment of Korean immigrants in his country.

Film Info

  • Nagisa Oshima
  • Japan
  • 1968
  • 118 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.85:1
  • Japanese
  • Spine #798

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with critic Tony Rayns
  • New high-definition digital transfer of director Nagisa Oshima’s 1965 experimental short documentary Diary of Yunbogi
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton and a 1968 director's statement by Oshima

New cover by Adam Maida

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with critic Tony Rayns
  • New high-definition digital transfer of director Nagisa Oshima’s 1965 experimental short documentary Diary of Yunbogi
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton and a 1968 director's statement by Oshima

New cover by Adam Maida

Death by Hanging
Cast
Yung-do Yun
R
Kei Sato
Warden
Fumio Watanabe
Education chief
Rokko Toura
Doctor
Masao Adachi
Security chief
Toshiro Ishido
Chaplain
Hosei Komatsu
Prosecutor
Masao Matsuda
Assistant prosecutor
Akiko Koyama
Korean woman
Shizuo Sato
Guard
Takashi Ueno
Guard
Nagisa Oshima
Narrator
Credits
Director
Nagisa Oshima
Producer
Masayuki Nakajima
Producer
Takuji Yamaguchi
Producer
Nagisa Oshima
Screenplay
Tsutomu Tamura
Screenplay
Mamoru Sasaki
Screenplay
Michinori Fukao
Screenplay
Nagisa Oshima
Cinematography
Yasuhiro Yoshioka
Music
Hikaru Hayashi
Editing
Sueko Shiraishi
Sets
Jusho Toda
Assistant director
Kiyoshi Ogasawara
Sound
Hideo Nishizaki
Special effects
Akira Suzuki

From The Current

Death by Hanging: Hanging by a Thread
Death by Hanging: Hanging by a Thread

In Death by Hanging, Nagisa Oshima spins a complex aesthetic web around his documentary-like structure, packing detail, history, politics, and emotion into his surrealist inquiry into capital punishment.


By Howard Hampton

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Reintroducing Nagisa Oshima’s Death by Hanging
Reintroducing Nagisa Oshima’s Death by Hanging

It’s been nearly fifty years since the original release of Nagisa Oshima’s Death by Hanging, yet the 1968 feature remains as viscerally powerful as ever. Oshima, one of the Japanese New Wave’s most prominent directors, made the film as a satiri…

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Nagisa Oshima

Writer, Producer, Director

Japanese cinema’s preeminent taboo buster, Nagisa Oshima directed, between 1959 and 1999, more than twenty groundbreaking features. For Oshima, film was a form of activism, a way of shaking up the status quo. Uninterested in the traditional Japanese cinema of such popular filmmakers as Kurosawa, Ozu, and Naruse, Oshima focused not on classical themes of good and evil or domesticity but on outcasts, gangsters, murderers, rapists, sexual deviants, and the politically marginalized. He began as a studio filmmaker, and had a hit with the jazzy Cruel Story of Youth (1960), but left Shochiku when the powers that be there pulled his politically incendiary Night and Fog in Japan (1960) from circulation. Oshima then struck out on his own, becoming an independent director and even starting a production company, Sozo-sha, where he made such popular and aesthetically diverse films as the pinku eiga, or “pink film,” Pleasures of the Flesh (1965); Violence at Noon (1966), which contains more than two thousand cuts; Sing a Song of Sex (1967), a dreamlike investigation of libidinous, politically confused youth; and Death by Hanging (1969), a surreal, meditative film about social injustice. With his late-seventies international coproductions, the sexually graphic In the Realm of the Senses (1976) and the visually raw ghost story Empire of Passion (1978), Oshima became an art-house sensation in Europe and the U.S., riling moviegoers there much as he had at home. Made in 1999, Oshima’s final film, Taboo, a portrait of homosexual longing among samurai, is the perfect expression of his continued desire to provoke.