The Eel

Overview

Veteran filmmaker and perennial iconoclast Shohei Imamura directs this darkly comic tale about love, redemption, and a man's beloved pet eel. The film opens with Takuro Yamashita (Koji Yakusho), a seemingly normal salaryman, learning that his wife might be having an affair. When he catches the couple in flaganto delicto, he freaks out and brutally stabs them both to death. Eight years later, Yamashita is released on parole into the care of a Buddhist priest living in rural Chiba prefecture. Far away from his ...
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Overview

Veteran filmmaker and perennial iconoclast Shohei Imamura directs this darkly comic tale about love, redemption, and a man's beloved pet eel. The film opens with Takuro Yamashita (Koji Yakusho), a seemingly normal salaryman, learning that his wife might be having an affair. When he catches the couple in flaganto delicto, he freaks out and brutally stabs them both to death. Eight years later, Yamashita is released on parole into the care of a Buddhist priest living in rural Chiba prefecture. Far away from his former life, yet still plagued with memories of his crime, Yamashita decides to start anew by opening a barbershop on a quiet road next to a canal. Though inward looking and self-conscious, he eventually befriends a bumptious but good-hearted day laborer, and a construction worker who's obsessed with UFOs. His most fateful encounter though is with a woman named Keiko (Misa Shimizu), who he discovers unconscious following a suicide attempt. Looking to put a few of her own demons to bed, Keiko decides to stay in this sleepy corner of Japan and help her savior with his barbershop. Initially against the idea -- she bears a striking resemblance to his dead spouse -- he eventually agrees and even grows to like having her around. This film won the Grand Prix at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
Master filmmaker Shohei Imamura won his second Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival with this oddball tale about a man and his pet eel. Though this film exhibits Imamura's trademark fascination with the messy underside of humanity, where barely repressed sexual and violent urges threaten to bubble to the surface, Unagi is a quieter, more reflective work compared to the ribald absurdity of such earlier masterworks as Insect Woman (1963) and The Pornographer (1966). The film's deceptively savage opening, in which average salaryman Takuro Yamashita is suddenly driven to stab his philandering wife, recalls the rawness and brutality of Imamura's later Vengeance is Mine (1979). Yet, unlike the protagonist of that film, the blood-splattered Yamashita calmly bicycles to the police station and turns himself in. Imamura leaves his takes long, employing an unobtrusive yet slightly distanced visual style to create the vague illusion that one is watching the film's events unfold through the same glass tank in which Yamashita keeps his pet eel. Koji Yakusho's performance as Yamashita carries the same everyman quality that he first revealed in Shall We Dance? (1996). Brilliantly mixing the comic and the horrific, Imamura's assured, finely textured direction charms and entertains as it astonishes.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/28/2001
  • UPC: 717119679149
  • Original Release: 1997
  • Rating:

  • Source: New Yorker Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Letterbox
  • Language: Japanese
  • Time: 1:57:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Koji Yakusho Takuro Yamashita
Misa Shimizu Keiko Hattori
Fujio Tsuneta Jiro Nakajima
Mitsuko Baisho Misako Nakajima
Akira Emoto Tamotsu Takasaki
Sho Aikawa Yuji Nozawa
Ken Kobayashi Masaki Saito
Sabu Kawara Seitaro Misato
Etsuko Ichihara Fumie Hattori
Tomoroh Taguchi Eiji Dojima
Technical Credits
Shohei Imamura Director, Screenwriter
Kenichi Benitani Sound/Sound Designer
Hisa Iino Producer
Shinichiro Ikebe Score Composer
Hisao Inagaki Production Designer
Shigeru Komatsubara Cinematographer
Hajime Okayasu Editor
Daisuke Tengan Screenwriter
Motofumi Tomikawa Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. scene selections
1. All-Night Fishing Trips [1:34]
2. Your Home Early [:33]
3. A White Sedan [1:52]
4. Call Homicide [5:30]
5. Pet Eel? [2:23]
6. The Barber Shop [6:21]
7. Drawn Into Trouble [8:26]
8. The Spear [3:59]
9. A Favor [2:46]
10. I Write To You Again [11:28]
11. Garbage Man [1:02]
12. A Marvelous Device [5:09]
13. A Friend Of Keiko's [4:44]
14. The Carmen Of Akita [1:58]
15. The Floodgate [4:18]
16. You Knew? [3:47]
17. Attacked [3:25]
18. Don't Be So Smug [1:55]
19. Someone's Watching [2:31]
20. No Female Eels [3:55]
21. The Letter [3:23]
22. A Wonderful Place [2:07]
23. Mother's Bank Book [1:25]
24. Jealousy Is Wrong [1:28]
25. Serious Business [8:25]
26. Everyone Thinks It's Yours [7:51]
27. A Fantastic Eel [1:57]
28. A Stop On the Way [4:55]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   play feature
   trailer
   profiles
      Shohei Imamura
      Koji Yakusho
      Misa Shimizu
   subtitles
   New Yorker Films
      PLAY TRAILER: Nelly
      PLAY TRAILER: Chunhyang
      PLAY TRAILER: Fellini City of Women
      PLAY TRAILER: Loulou
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