Gate of Flesh

Gate of Flesh ★★★★★

A young woman tries to survive in a crowded ghetto in Tokyo in the aftermath of Japan's defeat in 1945. The film is like an impressionistic portrayal of the situation at that time, especially what's going on in her mind as her life has undergone major changes and she's forced to adapt in order to survive. She has memories of her brother who was killed in Borneo. That family stability has been torn apart. A black US army chaplain serves as kind of a symbol of American culture and religion, plus he's black, and the film's release in 1964 coincides with the Civil Rights Movement in the US hitting its peak. But really it's also an attraction of sorts between them, as she joins a group of prostitutes and he wants either she come to church or maybe sex, though he doesn't seem to actually be consciously aware of it. The women in the group of prostitutes have become hardened to the harsh conditions of life and spare no one who violates their rules of conduct, number one being all sex must be done as a financial transaction, otherwise a cruel punishment awaits any transgressor. Another character is a prostitute in the group who wears a kimono, perhaps a reference to more traditional society that's been torn apart. How does she fit into this group of women hardened by the destruction of their society and economy? A fugitive demobbed Japanese soldier enters the scene and stays with the prostitutes in their bombed out squatters' living space who represents a rebel in the face of the US military occupation as well as a sex symbol for the women in the group. The photography is a fantastic mix of colors, sets, and people. Each of the main characters's dresses have their own color, yellow, green, blue, red, etc. The style is really catchy and the story grows more intense for the young woman as this geopolitical and moral situation swirls around her out of her control.

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