Red Angel

Red Angel
Studio: Fantoma
WorkNameSort: Red Angel
Red Angel is just the sixth of Japanese auteur Yasuzo Masumura's 60-plus films to receive a DVD release in North America. Since he stuck mostly to B-pictures, he hasn't received the worldwide renown of prestigious contemporaries Kurosawa, Ozu and Mizoguchi, even though he apprenticed under the latter. Red Angel is as good an introduction to Masumura's world as any; its raw battlefield impassivity and poetic love story collide with schematic dissonance. This powerful anti-war polemic, set in 1939 during the Sino-Japanese War, is told through the eyes of Nishi, a beautiful nurse who falls in love with impotent, morphine-addicted surgeon Okabe. Despite Dr. Okabe's poignant statements on the dehumanizing nature of war, Nishi can't help but feel emotionally connected to her patients, doing whatever necessary to assist them even if it means giving away her body. But what's a sexual tryst with a pathetic armless soldier when countless nameless corpses are being flung into unmarked graves? This is one of the film's many sobering realizations. The Fantoma DVD includes no notable supplements, but the 2.35:1 transfer is impeccable.