Noble intentions become a descent into madness in Shura (1971), a revenge story set in feudal Japan directed by Toshio Matsumoto (Japanese, b. 1932), a pioneer of Japanese 1960s experimental cinema and video art. Drawing on his background in classical Japanese theater (Kabuki and Noh), Matsumoto suspends this tale in a stark and claustrophobic mise-en-scene. The dark stage of Noh theatre finds new expression in front of the camera as it follows the story of a disenfranchised samurai who, cheated out of money and love, furiously pursues his deceivers. His story illustrates the nihilistic undercurrent to feudal values of loyalty, honor, and sacrifice.
The Darkness Film Series presents three films as a meditation and exploration of darkness in film and cinema. Featuring the works of avant-garde directors from different latitudes, these films refract the idea of darkness through the lens of Japanese theater, political oppression, colonial psychology, and more. This series is organized by Justen Waterhouse.