Death by Hanging | Nagisa Oshima | 1968

Ah, yes! Not just a screed against capital punishment, ladies and gents, but a film that knows all too well and all too accurately that the death penalty is a soggy appendage of the right-wing state. Crime and punishment don’t float in the purified ether of moral abstraction (and never have!) but rather hang in toxic admixture with the pestilential smog of imperialism. There’s a spare moment of visceral humanist outrage just at the beginning – R’s spasmodic hobble toward the noose – before Oshima cerebralizes the proceedings with incisive semantics and rhetorical mindfuck, with chains of performative intent and the steady Venn Diagram overlapping of criminal violence Platonicized with the victimhood psychology wrought by colonialist dispossession. The execution room is an echo chamber giving leaden dimension to the void between R’s dehumanized soullessness and the prison staff’s madhouse buffoonery, and with Oshima’s camera in restless panoramic whirligig – always in search of new dynamite compositions – there’s never a dang dull moment!

Has the ship sailed on such creepily dispassionate self-interrogations of the imperialist mindstate? We need a Death by Hanging for these Islamophobic times! For Israel/Palestine!! HEY DANIEL!!!!!!!


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