If you are in the Los Angeles area this week, you won’t want to miss a rare screening of Oshima Nagisa’s seminal 1967 feature, Band of Ninja, at UCLA’s James Melnitz Theater on Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. Based on Shirato Sampei’s epic 16-volume manga classic Ninja Bugeicho, this is the Japanese New Wave master’s only non-live-action feature film.
Fans of classic world cinema will recognize Nagisa as the influential director of features such as In the Realm of the Senses (1976) and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983). In Band of Ninja, he made a provocative action epic by simply filming the pages of Sampei’s manga classic about a blood-soaked revenge and revolt in Feudal Japan. The plot centers on the son of an assassinated feudal lord who enlists a renegade ninja to avenge his father’s death. In classic Japanese fashion, the two gather a band of peasants and farmers to rebel against a corrupt regime. What’s amazing about the project is that it’s constructed using only manga illustrations with dialogue and sound effects. In his own words, ‘With an adventurous spirit any kind of material can be brought to the screen.’
Presented by the UCLA Film and TV Archive, the film will screen at the James Bridges Theater in Melnitz Hall, located on the northeast corner of the UCLA Westwood campus. Advance tickets are available for $8 at www.cinema.ucla.edu. For more info, call 310.206.FILM.