Pigs and Battleships
Set in the seedy port town of Yokosuka, site of a massive U.S. naval base, Pigs and Battleships is a raucous black comedy on overdrive. Director Shohei Imamura not only creates a visceral panorama of Japan’s postwar underworld—prostitutes, punks, hoods—but also offers biting metaphors of how the Japanese adapted to the daily reality of the American army presence. Its Scope frame bursting at the seams with frantic activity, the film reaches an absurdist climax as black-market pigs raised on garbage from the army compound storm the city’s narrow streets. A corrosive, breakneck satire beloved by Susan Sontag, the film was dubbed, recut, and retitled (The Dirty Girls and later The Flesh Is Hot) for its original release. Restored to its original version, Pigs and Battleships is now widely considered Imamura’s first great work.
“An expansive, loopy film of extravagant set pieces and distinctive dark humor . . . Shohei Imamura has a passion for everything that’s kinky, lowlife or irrational in Japanese culture.”—J. Hoberman, The Village Voice.