Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Following up on his acclaimed and Cannes Grand Prix-winning Unagi, veteran iconoclast Shohei Imamura directs this gleefully ragged tale about one very dedicated, though defiantly eccentric, doctor during the waning days of the Second World War. Dr. Akagi (Akira Emoto) is a small-town physician who sports a prim white suit and straw hat as he runs at full gallop from one case to the next. His diagnosis is always the same no matter the symptom: hepatitis. Along the way, he enlists the help of a young lass named Sonoko (Kumiko Asou) whose mother is a prostitute. Before she leaves home, mom gives her this kernel of maternal wisdom: give your physical devotion away to only your true love, make everyone else pay. She decides that the lucky recipient will be Dr. Akagi. Unfortunately, he has little interest in anything other than finding a cure for hepatitis. One day he happens upon a bruised and battered Dutch soldier (Jacques Gamblin) who escaped from the local POW camp. Realizing that returning to the camp would spell death for the lanky escapee, the doctor hides him with the aid of drug-addled fellow doctor (Kotsuke Sera) and an alcoholic Buddhist priest (Juro Kara). In gratitude to Dr. Akagi's kind act, the Dutchman, a lens crafter in quieter times, helps to fashion him a microscope so that the doctor may look at the very hepatitis germ itself. This film was intended as Imamura's swansong, but in 2001 he came out of retirement to direct the surrealist romance Akai Hashi Noshitano Nurui Mizu.
doctor, eccentric, fugitive, hepatitis, microscope, POW (Prisoner of War), prostitute/prostitution, soldier, priest, Buddhism