Best Movies Written By Shōhei Imamura

Staff & contributors

, 1987

While marked as a comedy, Zegen isn’t the kind of film that would make you laugh freely– it is, after all, a film that mocks the real-life sex trafficking of impoverished Japanese women during both world wars. This makes it a challenging film to watch, especially to viewers outside the country. But to Shohei Imamura’s credit, the butt of the joke isn’t on the women being sold, but rather, on the titular pimp Iheiji Muraoka, the delusions and lies he told himself and others, and the twisted nationalism he uses to exploit his ladies. Zegen is based on Muraoka’s supposedly true autobiography, but Imamura uses the text to mirror the follies (and consequences) of imperialism.

Genre: Comedy, History

Actor: Hiroyuki Konishi, Ken Ogata, Ko Chun-Hsiung, Mitsuko Baisho, Norihei Miki, Sanshô Shinsui, Shino Ikenami, Taiji Tonoyama, Tetta Sugimoto

Director: Shōhei Imamura