Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 

Shinju ten no amijima

Japan, 1969, 142 min

Shown in 1970


Masahiro Shinoda
Masahiro Shinoda, Masayuki Nakajima
Taeko Tomioka, Masahiro Shinoda
Toichiro Marushima
Toru Takemitsu
Kichiemon Nakamura, Shima Iwashita, Hosei Komatsu, Yusuke Takita


Kit Parker Films, P.O. Box 16022, Monterey, CA 93942. FAX: 831-393-0304. EMAIL:


Selected by Scott McGehee and David Siegel for Indelible Images in 2001.
Double Suicide

For Shinoda, the thin line between truth and falsehood is at the heart of his 1969 adaptation of an 18th-century puppet drama. A director known for his narrative and aesthetic experimentations, Shinoda still shares the sense of doomed romanticism that so heavily weighs on traditional drama. Double Suicide represents the pinnacle of his combination of classic theatrical tragedy and modern cinematic trickery. The age-old Japanese conflict between social obligation and personal emotion is explored through the fates of married businessman Jihei and Koharu, the courtesan whom he madly loves. Unable to be with Koharu in this world, Jihei insists they commit double suicide to find in death the united love forbidden in life. Beginning as a documentary, with shots of the korago (puppet handlers) arranging the dolls, the film soon expands to the “real” world of live action. Humans take over the roles, though the korago still linger on the side, wordlessly guiding them like dolls towards an ending already prescribed by fate. With tragedy building, some appear almost anguished, despairingly observing—but unable to change—the lovers’ destinies. As the thin line between reality, theatricality and fantasy slowly crumbles, Double Suicide becomes more exquisitely stylized, and even more inescapably disturbing.