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Off-genre: notes on (dis)-locating Ôshima Nagisa's Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-18, 21:37 authored by Katsuhiko SuganumaKatsuhiko Suganuma
In this essay, I examine some key elements of 1983 iconoclastic classic Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, directed by Ôshima Nagisa, that potentially prevent it from being recognized under the rubric of queer cinema. Focusing on the narratives of failure and shame, I point to the ways in which Ôshima's film unsettles and shatters the processes of subject formation of potentially homosexual characters, particularly that of Captain Yonoi. I also suggest the possibility of Merry Christmas as being instrumental in leading audiences continuously to ponder the nature of queer desire. As one of the first visual depictions deploying the discourse of homo-eroticism within the contexts of cross-cultural contact between Japan and the West, I argue that the film continues to be "off-genre," dis-located and left fleeting somewhere among the peripheral fringe of that genealogy we now accept as Japanese queer cinema.
Department/SchoolSchool of Humanities
Place of publicationUnited States
Rights statementCopyright 2016 The Author