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Youth of the Beast

(Yajû no seishu)
Japan 1963. Dir: Seijun Suzuki. 91 min. 35mm

Suzuki himself claims that 1963 was the year when he truly came into his own, and Youth of the Beast is one of his breakthroughs. In his second collaboration with the director, Jo Shishido rampages through the movie, playing a disgraced ex-cop pitting two yakuza gangs against each other to avenge the death of a fellow officer. As the double and triple crosses mount, Suzuki fills the frame with lurid colors, striking compositions, and boldly theatrical effects that signal a director breaking away from genre material to forge a pulp art form all his own. “Hot stuff ... Suzuki raises the genre’s visual rhetoric to a new high. Who else would park a gay yakuza in a pink limo under matching cherry blossoms?” (Tony Rayns, Time Out). Print courtesy The Japan Foundation.