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Death by Hanging Photos

Movie Info

In Japan, a young Korean man (Do-yun Yu) rapes and kills two girls and is then sentenced to hang. But this punishment has no effect on the culprit other than amnesia, leaving the prison warden (Kei Satô) and chief of guards (Masao Adachi) stunned. The lawmen decide that they must show the convict why they're taking his life, so, with the help of their underlings, they begin to act out the prisoner's crimes. But they enjoy stepping into his shoes, which further complicates things.

Cast & Crew

Kei Satô
Prison warden
Fumio Watanabe
Education Officer
Masao Adachi
Chief of guards
Do-yun Yu
The convict
Akiko Koyama
Korean woman
Masayuki Hoshi
Yuki Osaka
Shizui Sato
Guard
Akiko Terayima
Michinori Fukao
Writer
Hikaru Hayashi
Original Music
Yasuhiro Yoshioka
Cinematographer
Jusho Toda
Production Design
Show all Cast & Crew

News & Interviews for Death by Hanging

Critic Reviews for Death by Hanging

All Critics (6) | Fresh (5) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for Death by Hanging

  • Feb 05, 2014
    Very loosely based on a true story about a Japanese-born Korean student who raped and killed two girls in 1958 and was given death sencence by hanging five years later, <i>Kôshikei</i> is Ôshima's personal transformation of an ordinary execution story into an expertly directed satirical dark comedy with important undertones of criticism against capital punishment, the Japanese nationalist anti-Korean sentiment and the blood-soaked Japanese imperialism, all through a scope that intents on the ridicule of the nationalist (Minister of Education), political (Public Prosecutors), religious (Priest) and legal (District Attorney) authorities. With a stunning ability to intertwine both the comically absurd and dramatic glimpses of powerful ideas about the contradictions found in the definitions of "human justice", Ôshima challenges prejudices and societal xenophobia, and invites to reflection for his time and for the times of today. 95/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Dec 18, 2009
    This is a fascinating, expertly directed film. And apparently, the story's initial premise (a young Korean man condemned for murdering two Japanese school girls) is even true. The film proclaims its purpose immediately, by directly interrogating the viewer about his feelings on capital punishment. Presented through stark text cards, the central nag is (paraphrasing) "For those of you in favor of capital punishment, have you ever seen an execution?" Director Nagisa Oshima (best known in the States for "In the Realm of the Senses" and "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence") goes on to introduce the floorplan of what appears to be a real execution chamber, a quaint bungalow tucked away in the corner of a large prison. From there, we are introduced to the central character "R." (shades of Kafka?), who is about to be hanged in a highly ritualized procedure. We are told that hanging victims are pronounced dead once their heart stops, and this can take up to 15 minutes after the hanging. But in this case, R.'s heart mysteriously persists and he slowly slips back to functional consciousness. Except...he has amnesia, and remembers almost nothing about the world around him. The execution crew is faced with an unprecedented intellectual dilemma. The Catholic priest insists the last rites freed R.'s soul from his body, and thus the remaining person is not the same man (and should not be punished for the earlier crime). Also, the police have a rule about the condemned recognizing their guilt before death, and now R. has no idea he has committed a crime. Oops. The hapless police come up with the solution of jarring R.'s memory by awkwardly reenacting incidents from his life. And this is where the tale starts to resemble the delightful, dark satire of Luis Bunuel. There is a surprising number of genuine laughs, and the comic acting may even turn a little too burlesque at times. However, the problem becomes more complex as the hours pass, reality blurs and all characters involved begin to question their beliefs and past transgressions. The issue of racist treatment of Koreans in Japan also becomes an important element. "Death by Hanging" is a bit overlong at 117 minutes, and the laborious process of the various stagings slightly wears out its welcome. Still, this is a provocative film which can breed debate both about capital punishment and about simply *what happened* as the story turns more surreal.
    Eric B Super Reviewer

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