A bleak, uncompromising anti-war film, Yasuzo Masumura's Red Angel never feels polemic or political, I'd actually characterize it as eerily calm in its display of such depravity. Focusing on the desecration of the flesh and the soul while exhibiting the psychological and physical horrors of war through its searing, unadulterated vision, Masumura crafts one of the more difficult anti-war films ever made. Told largely through the perspective of a front-line wartime nurse, the actual battles of the second Sino-Japanese War are never exhibited on screen, outside of the last 10-minutes of the film, they exist almost solely on the periphery, with only the aftermath of such brutality being shown, repeatedly, without any sense of slowing down. Never exploitative but steadfast in its unwavering approach, the Black and White photography feels like a necessity given the degradation of the body on display. The stark photography aligns well with Masumura's vision, one which offers no answers to such horrors ultimately being only interested in displaying it with an unbridled realism. Any good war film is an anti-war film by definition but Masumara's Red Angel is more overt in its approach, focusing solely on the aftermath of conflict - the desecration of the body and soul on display makes this one of the more potent anti-war films ever made.
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