Also known as Moju, and yet another film dealing with the deranged obsessions of a mad artist - but few movies of any kind climax so deliriously as this one, descending into a masochistic world of erotic pain which not even the later Ai No Corrida was quite able to match.
Posing as a masseur, blind sculptor Michio (Funakoshi) chloroforms and kidnaps a famous photographic model and hauls her down to his warehouse workshop, intending to create a statue based upon her perfect lines and curves. The young woman’s initial terror soon turns to respect for the artist’s aims, and eventually to burgeoning love for her sightless captor - but the threat of romance leads Michio’s jealous mother to attempt helping the girl to escape. During the ensuing free-for-all, Ma fatally smacks her head against a wall and the model reveals her true antagonistic feelings towards her would-be paramour. His response is to violently rape her; weeks later, now resigned to her fate and with her own sight gradually diminishing in the dim light of the windowless studio, the model embarks upon a torrid sexual relationship with Michio, which ultimately consumes them both in a flurry of biting, scratching, clawing, bondage, flagellation, vampirism, dismemberment and ritual suicide.
The film’s ultra-minimal style focuses attention directly upon the development of one of cinema’s strangest-ever love affairs - aside from two early scenes in a gallery and at the model’s apartment, the entire story takes place within the gloomy warehouse, and only the aforementioned trio of characters take part. The studio space within the workshop is a masterpiece of late 1960s art design - outsize plaster eyes, noses, and limbs cover every inch of wall space, and the room is dominated by a reclining forty-foot nude study, upon the breasts, belly, and thighs of which Funakoshi and Midori play out much of the drama. During one revealing exchange, the victimised object of the artist’s affections succinctly analyses her kidnapper’s connection to his work, theorizing that he constructs such vast figures and body parts since he sees everything from a baby’s viewpoint, and maternalism and matters Oedipal infuse this movie like few others since Psycho. All things considered, however, we’re really in the realm of the (five) senses here.
Prolific Japanese director who made over 60 films in a 30-year career. Tokyo born Masumura began work as an assistant director in the late 1940s, and studied film in Rome, before debuting in 1957 with the bleak social drama Kisses. Masumura constantly challenged the conventions and restrictions of Japanese cinema, with often surreal films like Giants and Toys and The Black Test Car that attacked corporate life and championed the individual. Other notable films include Manji, which dealt with bisexuality and suicide, Red Angel, the harrowing story of a nurse who saves the life the man who raped her, and Blind Beast, the intense, S&M themed tale of an artist and his model. Masumura died of a brain hemorrhage in 1986.