[Death by Hanging] is not so much based on facts as structured round them; a documentary fact merely provides the thematic framework around which Oshima builds a complex interplay between reality and appearance….
[What we watch in Death by Hanging] is a masquerade, a formal demonstration of what Oshima has called 'the continual reciprocity between reality and fiction.' The idea is central to each of the three recent Oshima films we have seen. It is the basis of Boy, where the family's existence depends on an act of deception; and of course it recurs throughout Diary of a shinjuku Thief, with its convoluted variations on the theme of performance. The disappearing body at...
(The entire section is 499 words.)