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March 07, 2013

Female Teacher: In Front of the Students

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Onna kyoshi: Seito no me no maede
Yasuro Uegaki - 1982
Impulse Pictures Region 1 DVD

How problematic is Female Teacher: In Front of the Students? Let me put it to the reader this way - like all of the Impulse Pictures DVDs, this one comes with a two page essay by Jasper Sharp, informative author of Behind the Pink Curtain, about Roman Porno films and filmmakers. Only two paragraphs are actually devoted to this film, and it's easy to understand why;

We're clearly in old school, as it were, male fantasy land here. There the time honored dream of the young male student making it with the attractive teacher. More questionable is the premise, as stated by one of the female teachers, that it is every woman's desire to get raped. I suppose one could get outraged about anybody thinking thinking that the depiction of rape would be a salaryman's entertainment. Maybe I'm taking the easy way out here by classifying Female Teacher: In Front of the Students with the real or perceived racism of Birth of a Nation, or the any number of films as simply the product of a certain time, generation and culture.

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The basic premise here is that young, sort of attractive, teacher Reiko gets raped in the shower by a guy wearing a light blue track suit, disguised with a stocking over his face. Is the assailant the boyfriend of best friend Shoko, is it the baddest of bad boy students, or possible the class nerd? Even more troubling is what is everyone reading, with very thick accents, in that English class? I'm guessing by a couple of sentences that it's Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which is scarier than anything seen on the screen here. Anyways, Reiko is left in the shower, with a clue, a piece from a puzzle. I can't totally dislike a film that is unafraid of the most literal minded symbolism.

From what I gather from Jasper Sharp, Yasuro Uegaki had a fairly undistinguished career. Some of the scenes hint that there may have been some slightly higher filmmaking aspirations on Uegaki's part in some of the transitional moments. There are several shots of actress Rushia Santo walking alone, either in school corridors or along the street, alone. The shots are composed so that the viewer is looking ahead at a long, dark pathway. There is also a nicely uneasy scene of Santo alone in her apartment, getting a disturbing phone call. One might also consider the contrast between Reiko's small, cramped apartment and the spacious, opulent home of a student as a comment on class and sexual inequality in Japan.

For the less critical audience, there Reiko's half hearted objections to lesbian sex in the shower with a student, or Reiko's involvement as part of a threesome in front of a huge American flag. The fogging used to cover parts of a scene of bathtub sex could almost be confused with actual steam. There is little information of Rushia Santo, other than that she made four films for Nikkatsu between 1982 and 1986, one directed by the now highly respected Yoichi Sai. Of the Roman Porno films now out on DVD, I would hardly call Female Teacher: In Front of the Students essential viewing, but something more for the more curious students of the genre.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at March 7, 2013 09:36 AM