Cruel Story of Youth  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Cruel Story of Youth (Seishun Zankoku Monogatari, 1960), was the second film directed by Nagisa Oshima.

Oshima, who was only 28 at the time, made extensive use of hand-held cameras and location shooting, and the results drew comparisons to other so-called "New Wave" filmmakers emerging simultaneously in the world; the film became one of the primary films in the Nuberu bagu.

The use of adolescent criminals as protagonists generated controversy at the time, though the film was also a commercial success, which helped to pave the way for the emergence of a young and adventurous generation of new Japanese filmmakers: in short order, Shohei Imamura, Masahiro Shinoda, Yasuzo Masumura, Susumu Hani, Hiroshi Teshigahara and others began to attract international attention. In this film, Oshima was already beginning to explore the themes he would soon become famous for: a focus on youth and on 'outsiders,' and critical deconstructions of more stereotypical imagery in Japanese cinema.

Cruel Story of Youth was the first of three films Oshima completed in 1960; it was followed by The Sun's Burial and Night and Fog in Japan.


  • Donald Ritchie. 100 Years Of Japanese Cinema, 2003, Kodansha.
  • Joan Mellen. The Waves At Genji's Door: Japan Through Its Cinema, 1975, Pantheon.
  • Tadao Sato. Currents In Japanese Cinema, 1982, Kodansha.

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