MovieChat Forums > Nippon konchûki (1963) Discussion > The Insect Woman a spoiler included

The Insect Woman a spoiler included

This very powerful movie was on TCM 10-23-13. Interestingly, although the director thought his film too "Japanese" to be of interest to others, so said the TCM announcer Robert Osbourne, the film was shown as part of that night's series of new wave 1960s films and you see why despite its interesting technique, the director did so well at Cannes.

Anyway, in case anyone comes to this page, maybe now that it gets into TCM rotation, a couple questions.

1. Can someone explain the metaphor of the title. We see some kind of stick bug crawling in the dirt over the opening credits, OK, but how does it relate to the story?

2. The shots now and then of protests in the streets. What were they? Only one was identified as being anti-American. Were the others like that? Sometimes a subtitle for the signs would have been helpful for those who don't know the language.

And there's a truly powerful moment when Tome and her boss are making love, missing that dramatic announcement from the emperor that Japan is going to surrender plunging the country into shock and humiliation. That must have been a powerful scene to see in the theater, sort of dismissing one of the country's most memorable events.


What would we do without TCM?! I was impressed that they included this movie, not to mention Boy (少年, pronounced, I believe, Shonen in Japanese), which was shown a couple nights before. I sound like I know what I'm talking about, but of course I had never heard of these films, much less their directors, until R. Osborne brought them to us.

Regarding Insect Woman , Wiki says that "the title refers to an insect, repeating its mistakes, as in an infinite circle. Imamura, with this metaphor, introduces the life of Tome, who keeps trying to change her poor life." Duh... I guess so. I don't know if it's all mistakes; isn't it just the consequence of being, dare I say it, bourgeois [and a woman, and Japanese, and a host of other circumstances]? Which makes it, IMHO, even sadder.

Wondering about the demonstrations myself, I was tempted to go back and find out something about them. Many were against the so-called American Japanese Security Agreement. I googled an interesting, and edifying, history of some of it, though:

I actually remember some of those demonstrations; funny they seemed to culminate in Mishima's showy suicide in 1970, which was quite another kind of protest.


Both the beginning and the end of the film are connected: the opening features an insect struggling to climb a mound of dirt, and the ending shows Tome struggling to walk up a hill, getting her geta stuck in the mud. Both are creatures trapped by their own surroundings, forever climbing uphill but never reaching any kind of summit.