DEATH BY HANGING (Criterion Collection)
Comedy, Crime, Drama – 1hr & 57 mins
This sad tale, based on a true story of a Japanese-born Korean student who raped and killed two girls in 1958 and was then hanged in 1963 when he reached maturity, is turned by director Nagisa Oshima into a black farce reminiscent of the darkly satirical, anti-authoritarian films of Luis Buñuel. The film opens with the hanging of the criminal, but the noose fails to kill him. Instead he gets amnesia, and the executioners and officials reenact the crime, hoping to jog his memory and prove that he is guilty. Soon they begin to identify with their roles, and the line blurs between the crime and its reenactment. The film ends as a bitter indictment of Japanese nationalism, capital punishment, and Japanese institutional prejudice against Koreans.