Umi to dokuyaku (1986) AKA The Sea and Poison


Never one to shy away from uncomfortable topics, Kei Kumai adapted Shusaku Endo’s 1957 novel The Sea and Poison into one of the most complex studies on film of medical ethics. The movie (sometimes graphically) describes the use of eight downed American fliers as subjects of experimental surgical techniques at Kyushu University’s medical school and hospital in the summer of 1945, in the course of which all eight prisoners were murdered.

Director: Kei Kumai. 海と毒薬 / The Sea and Poison
Writers: Shûsaku Endô (novel), Kei Kumai.
Stars: Eiji Okuda, Ken Watanabe, Takahiro Tamura, Kyôko Kishida, Mikio Narita.
Cinematographer: Masao Tochizawa.
Composer: Teizô Matsumura.


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  1. Wolfgang Jahn
    April 18, 2023

    This is indeed an extremely strong movie, on all accounts and esp. the communication at around 1:20:00.

    But then again I perfectly well understand that slicing up the war enemy in a medical experiment to gain some scientific knowledge is an absolutely sensible decision.

    Moral are nice, but they don’t count in some situations.

    BTW, they all did it, the Japs, the Krauts, the USSA, the USSK, … so they all decided against morals in this very same situation. It ain’t just a coincidence.

  2. Wolfgang Jahn
    April 18, 2023

    I also recommend MEN BEHIND GHE SUN and THE ASCENT (Russia, 1977).

  3. Wolfgang Jahn
    April 18, 2023

    It’s always about following orders:

    The soldiers followed orders, when they killed.
    The doctors followed orders, when they experimented.
    The nurses followed orders, when they assisted.

    People should simply not obey, not follow orders. But as long as 90% do and hunt & destroy the not obeying 10% … instead of joining them!

    I’m now gonna watch TO KILL A CHILD aka WHO CAN KILL A CHILD by N. I. Serrador from 1976. Me thinks this should be a fitting double bill…

  4. Wolfgang Jahn
    April 18, 2023

    10/10, of course.

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