Nagisa Oshima Philip Strick - Essay

Philip Strick

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Boy] displays its credits against the blackened sun of the Japanese flag. The symbol, recurring throughout the film, is intended as an ironic reminder of militant nationalism, the dominant mood (as Oshima sees it) of the society within which his little band of criminals makes its gestures of revolt. In addition, the flag stands for the paternalistic structure of the Japanese way of life, a structure both constricting and emasculatory which has already received a thorough trouncing in two other recent Oshima works, Death by Hanging and Diary of a Shinjuku Thief. In both these predecessors, youthful offenders against the established order struggle to reconcile their social transgressions with what they are conscious to be their moral ones—only to reach the conclusion that the values of the older generation are neither valid nor relevant to their own problems….

[For the family of Boy], the flag is neither provider nor protector; rather, they are its victims—and in turn the boy is victim of his parents, whose exploitation of his body as a sacrificial offering to one car accident after another … is stoically accepted by him as their right….

[The ten-year-old in Boy] could have been given the full sentimental treatment. Like the arrogantly vulnerable miscreants of Shinjuku Thief, however, he is contemplated by Oshima with a gaze that is almost cold. All the heart-rending...

(The entire section is 471 words.)