Nippon konchuki (The Insect Woman) (1963)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The Insect Woman covers 45 years in the life of long-suffering Japanese woman Tome Matsuki, played brilliantly by Sachiko Hidari. Thrust into the cold world at age 20, the pregnant Tome takes a factory job. She gives this up for the relative comfort of the life of an American GI's mistress. Once her American benefactor heads home, she seeks shelter in a house of prostitution, eventually becoming the Madam. Late in life, she is introduced to the daughter she'd abandoned years earlier, whose life has followed pretty much the same path as her mother's had. The winner of 14 Japanese film awards, The Insect Woman details the decline of cultural values as mirrored by one single misspent life. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Sachiko Hidari
as Tome Matsuki
Hiroyuki Nagato
as Matsunami
Daizaburo Hirata
as Kamibayashi
Taiji Tonoyama
as Foreman
Shoichi Kuwayama
as Owagawa En's lover
Asao Koike
as Sawakichi
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Nippon konchuki (The Insect Woman)

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (1)

Darkly elegant.

Full Review… | February 13, 2001
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

an intriguing, albeit rough-edged, portrait of the struggles of womanhood in modern Japan

Full Review… | June 29, 2009
Q Network Film Desk

continues to impress and elude us more than 45 years later.

Full Review… | April 2, 2009

Reflects on many significant social concerns including the exploitation of women, how cruel people can be and the effects of westernization on Japan.

Full Review… | November 19, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The wide variety of social concerns addressed is astounding...

Full Review… | January 11, 2008
TV Guide

Quote not available.

July 1, 2005

Audience Reviews for Nippon konchuki (The Insect Woman)

A fictional account of a WWI era girl raised in a backwater rural farm, and the lack of true morality (hers & society's) as she goes through life in 20th century Japan. Part of the 1960's "New Wave" cinema.

Christopher Bergan
Christopher Bergan

As she is growing up, Tome is happy enough, even though there are rumors that Chuji(Kazuo Kitamura) may not be her biological father, which maybe has something to do with marrying her mother En(Sumie Sasaki) months after she became pregnant with her. As an adult(Sachiko Hidari), Tome works in a munitions plant during the war but is called home due to a family emergency. While she is thrilled that her father is still alive, she is depressed at the thought of being shopped out to a neighboring farm to pay off her family's debts. They are right that her virtue will not remain intact, but the pregnancy is a little bit of a surprise, as she also keeps the baby. Directed by Shohei Imamura, "The Insect Woman" is a rambunctious tragicomedy that pauses occasionally long enough for the characters to catch their breath. That's a good thing since there is a lot of post-war Japan to get through here.(And I think some knowledge of that time period would have proved helpful going in, having to look up May 1, 1952 myself.) Inflation is a key, as an important amount early on is 10 yen, while later on, there are negotiations for a loan of 200,000 yen. That's not to mention the innovations introduced from outside that the characters try to understand like land reform and democracy, forcing them to adapt that is a painful process at the best of times. On the one hand, there are the prostitutes who do not understand the big deal about virginity(That cat does not seem to be enjoying itself, though.) while others just go around in circles. And I understand why some people might find the ending a bit anticlimactic after all of that, but this is just a cycle that is broken with the help of a new way of thinking.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

I sell my body because I love him Tome Matsuki was born to a loose mother and a step father who treated her like one of his own. Her father protected her as long as he could, but eventually she leaves her farmland and heads to the city to make a living. She discovers the city is suffering through a recession and most of Japan's resources are dedicated to the World War. She finds herself involved in prostitution and quickly elevates herself to madam due to her sharp wits. "I count my money through bitter tears." Shohei Imamura, director of Intentions of Murder, The Eel, Vengeance is Mine, The Pornographers, and Ballad of Narayama, delivers The Insect Woman. The storyline for this picture is wonderfully delivered. The plot was compelling and the character development was astonishing. The acting is awesome and the star, Sachiko Hidari (Escape from Hell), delivers a captivating performance. "You're turning hungry women into slaves." I went to the American Film Institute (AFI) and they were showing Imamura movies in his memory. After watching Intentions of Murder, I was hooked to Imamura's work. His character development is second to no one and his films brilliantly display the struggles of the Japanese culture during the World Wars. I obtained his Criterion Pigs & Pimps box sets and have thoroughly enjoyed each picture in this set. I strongly recommend seeing this film if you are a fan of dramas. "If you don't sleep, the mice will scamper over you." Grade: A+

Kevin Robbins
Kevin Robbins

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