Nagisa Oshima was the originator and most famous director of the Japanese New Wave. His controversial films are frequently difficult, highly intellectual, and darkly funny; they revolutionized Japanese cinema by infusing it with sex and with biting social and political commentary.
Born on March 31, 1932, in Kyoto, Oshima was the son of a civil servant of samurai descent. After his father died when he was six, he retreated into a lonely childhood spent devouring his father's library, including a large number of books on Socialism and Communism. By high school, he began looking outward and split his time among student activism, baseball, and theater. Oshima later remarked that Akira Kurosawa's No Regrets for Our Youth (1946), about a Kyoto law professor's tribulations at the hands of the repressive pre-war government, probably influenced his choice of schools. In 1950, Oshima was admitted to the law faculty of Kyoto University and quickly became president of the Kyoto Prefecture Student Alliance. In 1953, he led a mass demonstration in which 70 people ended up injured. Oshima entered his senior year dispirited and was branded a Red Student, which impeded his search for a job. Though he knew nothing about filmmaking, he took the entrance exam at Shochiku Ofuna Studio out of desperation, and he received the highest possible score.