I’ve had this Criterion DVD kicking around for a number of years and have repeatedly put off watching it. Now I finally have gotten around to seeing it, I’m kicking myself it took me so long. I’m a big fan of director Suzuki Seijun’s films, but this has to rank very highly. On the surface, it’s the simple story of Harumi (the gorgeous Nogawa Yumiko), who volunteers as a comfort woman for the Japanese troops fighting in North East China, only to get entangled in a love triangle with a young soldier and his superior officer. The startling black and white photography is sublime, giving this tiny drama an epic scale, from the windswept deserts to the ornate Chinese buildings where the troops are stationed. In the second half, the film erupts into action, and features a stunning sequence where Harumi runs across an exploding battlefield at night, in order to find her true love, Mikami. There are also a series of surreal, erotically charged dream sequences that disarm the viewer after such a realistic first half. Unsurprisingly the film ends in tragedy, but it has proved a real surprise and definitely one of my favourite Suzuki films to-date, which is quite a statement in itself.