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Eel (Widescreen)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Kôji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baishô, Akira Emoto, Fujio Tokita
  • Directors: Shôhei Imamura
  • Writers: Shôhei Imamura, Akira Yoshimura, Daisuke Tengan, Motofumi Tomikawa
  • Producers: Hiso Ino, Kazuyoshi Okuyama, Yasushi Matsuda
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Mongrel Media
  • Release Date: Dec 17 2002
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005NFY5
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #87,629 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD
Shohei Imamura has been responsible for some of the better films out of Japan -- "Black Rain," "Vengeance Is Mine," and "The Pornographers" all come to mind. How, then, to explain "The Eel," a movie so silly and dumbfoundingly amateurish that it contains mistakes no first-time filmmaker would make?
The plot: After spending eight years in prison for murdering his philandering wife, a man returns to society and opens a barbershop with only his pet eel as company. He stumbles across a woman who has apparently attempted to commit suicide, and in gratitude she offers her services at his shop. He doesn't want anything to do with her, but eventually it becomes him vs. her half-psychotic former boyfriend (in a subplot involving her loony mother and some stolen money that's as stupid as it is unedifying).
The main problem with "The Eel" is not the premise, which is fine, but the way the movie is set up and played off. The writing and directing (and in many cases the acting) are staggeringly bad, so much so that I felt flat-out pity for Imamura. I suspect he had an idea that he simply was not capable of doing justice to properly, and compromised somewhere along the way.
So what kinds of mistakes are made? Example: Takuro is shown goose-stepping in prison as part of the routine. When he's released, he follows his parole officer a little too closely, and with a walk that's reminiscent of the goose-step without actually being that way. The parole officer asks him what's wrong. So far, so good. But then Imamura destroys the moment by forcing a shot of other prisoners goose-stepping, and even goes so far as to give us a voice-over explaining what was going on. It's as if he doesn't trust himself or his audience to figure anything out.
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Format: DVD
Shohei Imamura returns in fine form with "Unagi" (Japanese word for 'eel'). There are certainly noir-ish themes explored in this film. There's a protagonist in a lonely, secluded state of existence who must face life with staunch stoicism, there are shots where exaggerated emphasis on color depicts the emotional content of the scene/character, dream/surreal sequences, a crime from which everything unfurls, etc... However, to view the film only as an homage to certain noir films is a grave disservice to Imamura's originality and craftsmanship. The characters and storyline are rendered without a trace of sentimentality, which is a feat given that the familiar story matter invites kitsch: a man catches and kills his adulterous wife, receives parole and begins a new life. It just makes me shudder to think what kind of cornball Hollywood would have come up with, given the same subject matter. Koji Yakusho gives another fine performance as a confounded man who does not know the true nature of his crime, who nonetheless craves a new beginning, no matter how uncomfortable he is with all the things in the world. The male and female protagonists are fantastically flawed people, and that's the way most people (us) are, aren't we? There should be more films like this: portraying the worst and redeeming qualities of people with unflinching honesty. Imamura's honesty pays off handsomely when there seems to be a hint of redemption for these fallen people. It is genuinely moving, and the redemption is a believable one, the kind that all of us wish for ourselves when we are down on our knees. All the emotions - sexuality, voyeuristic tendencies, inferiority complex, fear, etc- are so accurately conveyed and palpably summoned up that you begin to muse about the shadows that lurk within yourself.
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Format: DVD
It's probably germane to note that "The Eel" is a film adaptation of a novel called On Parole, written by Akira Yoshimura. It's a pretty free adaptation; for instance, there's no eel in the book. The film loses some of the richness of the book, and it develops very slowly, and its central metaphors are tentative and underdone, but it's still a very interesting movie with some comic moments and some very touching scenes as well. I thought the cinematography was spectacular, really capturing the sadness and heat of semi-rural Japan.
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By Piu on Jan. 28 2002
Format: DVD
If you don't mind a male-dominant movie, then this is a good movie.
The guy gets only 8 years for murdering his wife. Then, during his parole, he was mean (by rejecting the lunchbox she made for me twice) and unsocialable but the girl still threw herself at him. All he had to do was dish out some kindness once in a while, and the girl was hooked. Men's fantansy if you ask me, but perhaps it reflects the Japanese way.
If the roles of male and female were reversed, would the movie still work? I think not.
Based on the VHS version.
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