The Profound Desire of the Gods

Vivid color and magnificent CinemaScope

The Profound Desire of the Gods
The robust good looks of Shohei Imamura's 1968 Cinemascope epic ''The Profound Desire of the Gods'' only heighten the perverse quality of the action, and Mr. Imamura's ribald, casually comic direction has much the same effect. This three-hour film makes an ideal introduction to the maverick qualities of this film maker's idiosyncratic style.

At some moments sounding a note of bizarre domestic comedy, and at other times attempting tragedy of mythic proportions, ''The Profound Desire of the Gods'' is nothing if not far-reaching. It unfolds on the tiny, remote island paradise of Kuragejima, in the Ryukyu Islands, and it concerns the Futori family, who are widely regarded as beasts by their neighbors. As the film demonstrates, there is a certain amount of justification for this. The Futori family history is rich with incestuous unions, forbidden practices and punishments from both fellow islanders and the gods.

So one of the family members, a man named Nekichi (Rentaro Mikuni), has been chained in a pit for his crimes; his sister and onetime lover, Uma (Yasuko Matsui), has become the much-abused mistress of the manager (Yoshi Kato) of a local mill. Another Futori is the wanton, feebleminded Toriko (Hideko Okiyama), who scampers about happily in a burlap sack and is much too popular with the local men. There are also a venerable, mischievous grandfather and a grandson named Kametaro (Choichiro Kawarazaki), who remains understandably confused about his lineage. And there is a certain majesty to all this squalor, for the gods who founded Kuragejima are said to have been as incestuous as the Futoris themselves.

The early parts of the film unfold in a sunny, unhurried, halfway humorous style, as Mr. Imamura documents the peculiarities of the Futori household. And there are frequent shots of the exotic sea and land creatures that live side by side with the islanders, suggestive of another dimension. Indeed, these glimpses of nature are specifically equated with divinity, and the film creates a strong sense of all-knowing, ever-present unseen powers. In one scene, the village storyteller sings of Kuragejima's gods and goddesses to a group of children, while a snake slithers placidly in the foreground.

A subplot introduces a bespectabled engineer (Kazuo Kitamura) who has come from Tokyo to help modernize Kuragejima. Having no understanding of the local people's deep superstitious and religious convictions, this engineer is a ready source of low-keyed comedy as he tries to adapt his plans to the local customs. (J. Maslin, New York Times)

The Profound Desire of the Gods

Thu November 8, 2007, 7:00 only, Muenzinger Auditorium

Japan, 1968, Japanese, Color, 172 min, Rated PG, 35mm, 2.35:1



10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.


Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.


Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Cover art for Spring 2 2022
Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists