According to film critic Tony Rayns, Kagerô-za “may well be Suzuki’s finest achievement outside the constraints of genre filmmaking.” In this hallucinatory adaptation of work by the Taisho-era writer Kyoka Izumi, a mysterious woman named Shinako invites Matsuzaki, a playwright, to the city of Kanazawa for a romantic rendezvous. While Matsuzaki is on his way, his patron Tamawaki appears on the train, claiming to be en route to witness a love suicide between a married woman and her lover. Matsuzaki suspects that Shinako is Tamawaki’s wife, and the trip to Kanazawa may spell his doom. Like Zigeunerweisen before it, reality, fantasy, life, and the afterlife blend together in Kagero-za—most spectacularly during the grand finale, in which Matsuzaki finds his life morphing into a deranged theatrical extravaganza. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Tom Vick is the author of Time and Place are Nonsense: The Films of Seijun Suzuki.