Close Up

22 September 2018: Diary of a Shinjuku Thief


Desktop Treasure
2014 | 9 min | Colour | Digital

A film which attempts to go beyond borders through mixing up personal areas of the Internet by bringing out online and analogue records, personal spaces lived in by the actor, old blogs and e-mail log in screens, and mixed video footages of various qualities. 

Diary of a Shinjuku Thief
Nagisa Oshima
1968 | 96 min | B/W | 35mm
Japanese with English subtitles

Nagisa Oshima weaves a tale of ideological book thievery, situationist performance, fantasy Noh theatre productions, sexual revolution, and personal liberation in this Art Theatre Guild classic. Diary of a Shinjuku Thief was heavily influenced by the post-Shingeki theatre movement, whose main practitioners were Juro Kara and Shūji Terayama. Rejecting the long modern trajectory toward “realist” theatre, these playwrights turned toward pre-modern theatrical forms, including Noh, Kabuki, and Bunraku. Much like Masahiro Shinoda’s Double Suicide, this film questions the relationship between reality and art, sending the protagonists into plays-within-a-film and featuring actual people as themselves in ad-libbed scenes. Shinjuku was a major centre for the art-theatre scene in the late 1960s, and several settings remain largely unchanged today, including Kinokuniya and the plaza outside the east exit of the station.

Screening as part of JAEFF: Youthquake