Eros Plus Massacre

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Eros + Massacre
Directed by Yoshishige Yoshida
Written by Masahiro Yamada, Yoshishige Yoshida
Starring Mariko Okada,
Toshiyuki Hosokawa,
Yūko Kusunoki,
Kazuko Ineno
Music by Toshi Ichiyanagi
Cinematography Motokichi Hasegawa
Distributed by Geneon Entertainment
Release dates October 15, 1969 (France)
Running time 202 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Eros + Massacre (エロス+虐殺 Erosu purasu gyakusatsu?) is a Japanese black-and-white film released in 1969. It was directed by Yoshishige Yoshida, who wrote it in cooperation with Masahiro Yamada. It's the first movie in Yoshida's trilogy of Japanese radicalism, followed by Heroic Purgatory (1970) and Coup d'Etat (1973).

It's considered to be one of the most representative movies from the Japanese New Wave movement, and often one of the finest Japanese movies. David Desser named his book on the subject after Eros + Massacre. The movie touches upon many themes, such as free love, anarchism and the relationship between the past, present and the future. Although the movie is a biography of anarchist Sakae Ōsugi, Yoshida states that he didn't focus on Ōsugi as a historical character per se, but rather on how reflecting on the present influences reflecting on the future.[1]


The film is a biography of anarchist Sakae Ōsugi, who was assassinated by the Japanese military in 1923. The story tells of his relationship with three women: Hori Yasuko, his wife; Noe Itō, his third lover, who was to die with him; and his jealous, second lover, Masaoka Itsuko, a militant feminist who attempts to kill him in a tea house in 1916. Parallel to the telling of Ōsugi’s life, two students (Eiko and Wada) do research on the political theories and ideas of free love that he upheld. Some of the characters from the past and from the present meet and engage the themes of the movie.

The movie begins with Eiko interviewing Noe Itō's daughter Mako in order to shed some light onto Noe's life. After that, we see a glimpse into Eiko and Wada's lives. Eiko believes in Ōsugi's principles of free love and the first time we meet her (after the cold opening), she's making love with a film director but gets interrupted by Wada, so later she finishes herself off by masturbating in the shower. She's also connected with an underground prostitution ring and has a police inspector trail her and question her. Meanwhile, Wada spends most of his time philosophizing with Eiko and playing with fire. The two sometimes engage in reenactments of lives of famous revolutionaries and martyrs.

Their story is interwoven with the retelling of Ōsugi's later years and death. The scene where Itsuko tries to take Ōsugi's life is retold several times with differing results. The 1920's scenes in general follow a different pace than the 1960's scenes, both musically and stilistically.

The story sometimes delves into oniric imagery, most notably the scene of two football teams playing a match over Ōsugi's ashes, or the segment where Eiko gets to interview Noe herself.

In the movie's final scene, Eiko's lover/film director commits suicide by hanging himself with a film track. Eiko and Wada gather all of the 1920's characters and take a group picture of them. The two then leave the building.


The movie is generally considered to be one of the finest movies to come out of the Japanese New Wave movement, and sometimes one of the best Japanese films in general. Although relatively unknown in the West, it has gained a small cult following.

Allan Fish, writer for Wonders in the Dark, considers Eros + Massacre to be the greatest film ever made.[2] He writes: "Upon watching this film for the first time, even in the shorter 166m version that was for a long time the only one available anywhere with English subtitles, one is left drained, a quite literal mental wreck. Even those versed in the seminal works of Yoshida’s contemporaries, Oshima and Imamura, will be unprepared for this. That his work still remains unavailable to the English speaking world, barely mentioned in any major film guide or tome, is one of the greatest oversights of accepted film reference literature. If he only made this one film, Yoshida would be recognised as a giant. " [3]

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