54 user 64 critic

Gohatto (1999)

The new member of a samurai militia unit causes disruption as several of his colleagues fall in love with him, threatening to disturb the rigid code of their squad.




On Disc

at Amazon

10 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Walang kawala (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

Joaquin (Polo Ravales), an unassuming fisherman, is forced to confront his homosexuality when his sex-starved wife Cynthia (Althea Vega) returns from her overseas job eager to get pregnant.... See full summary »

Director: Joel Lamangan
Stars: Polo Ravales, Joseph Bitangcol, Emilio Garcia
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Khoi, a naive twenty-year-old, travels to Ho Chi Minh City from the countryside to begin a new life. It's his first time in the big city and he's looking for a place to live. He befriends ... See full summary »

Director: Ngoc Dang Vu
Stars: Manh Hai Luong, Vinh Khoa Ho, Linh Son Nguyen
Transfixed (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Bo is a transexual prostitute in Brussels who left home after being abused by her father. She's now in an abusive relationship with a neighbor and suspected by the police in a series of ... See full summary »

Director: Francis Girod
Stars: Richard Bohringer, Robinson Stévenin, Stéphane Metzger
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A fictionalized account of what may have happened when John Lennon and Brian Epstein went on holiday together to Spain in 1963.

Director: Christopher Munch
Stars: David Angus, Ian Hart, Stephanie Pack
Princesa I (2001)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Fernando, a.k.a. Fernanda, a 19-year-old Brazilian transgender woman, travels to Milan and becomes a prostitute to finance sex-change surgery. Fernanda dreams of becoming a "real" woman, ... See full summary »

Director: Henrique Goldman
Stars: Ingrid de Souza, Cesare Bocci, Lulu Pecorari
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

During WWII, a British colonel tries to bridge the cultural divides between a British POW and the Japanese camp commander in order to avoid bloodshed.

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto
HerzHaft (2007)
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

Felix is secretly in love with Ralph. This doesn't seem to be the biggest problem, but Felix is fifteen and Ralph is his thirty-four-year-old soccer coach. They meet every day in secret. ... See full summary »

Director: Martin Busker
Stars: Tommaso Cacciapuoti, Ferdinand Hanisch, Johanna Niedermüller
Short | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Beneath a railroad bridge a young rural gay man begins to his explore his gay feelings with the aid of an understanding friend.

Director: Michael Burke
Stars: Mickey Smith, Jason Hayes, Todd Batstone
Wastelands (2013)
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Lonely teenager Marc is secretly in love with Olaf, the cool boy-next-door. He dreams about a relationship with him, and when the two go camping, this dream seems to become reality for Marc... See full summary »

Director: Marco van Bergen
Stars: Frederik Stuut, Daniël Brak, Henny Renes
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Adolescent curiosities and sexual explorations of a 15-year-old boy named Antonio who's just coming to terms with his sexuality. Through Antonio's mother and friends, we get an interesting ... See full summary »

Director: Joselito Altarejos
Stars: Kenjie Garcia, Jiro Manio, Nino Fernandez
The Nomi Song (2004)
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Having failed to break into professional opera in his native Germany (where, as an usher in West Berlin's Deutsche Oper, he would serenade the staff after the 'real' performances were over)... See full summary »

Director: Andrew Horn
Stars: Klaus Nomi, Ann Magnuson, David Bowie
The Wilding (2012)
Short | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

When juvenile inmate Malcolm is offered a chance at parole, he is torn between his chance for freedom and protecting the one he loves.

Director: Grant Scicluna
Stars: Reef Ireland, Luke Mullins, Frank Sweet


Credited cast:
Captain Toshizo Hijikata (as 'Beat' Takeshi)
Samurai Sozaburo Kano
Shinji Takeda ...
Samurai Hyozo Tashiro
Yôichi Sai ...
Jirô Sakagami ...
Lieutenant Genzaburo Inoue
Kôji Matoba ...
Samurai Heibei Sugano
Masa Tommies ...
Inspector Jo Yamazaki
Masatô Ibu ...
Officer Koshitaro Ito
Zakoba Katsura ...
Tomorô Taguchi ...
Samurai Tojiro Yuzawa
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chikako Aoyama
Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Daisuke Iijima
Yôichi Iijima


Set during Japan's Shogun era, this film looks at life in a samurai compound where young warriors are trained in swordfighting. A number of interpersonal conflicts are brewing in the training room, all centering around a handsome young samurai named Sozaburo Kano. The school's stern master can choose to intervene, or to let Kano decide his own path. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Unrated | See all certifications »



| |


Release Date:

18 December 1999 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Tabu  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$9,947 (USA) (8 October 2000)


$47,234 (USA) (26 November 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was Nagisa Ôshima's only film after his 1996 stroke. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Go see Gohatto
25 October 2006 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Oshima's first film in 14 years after illness was apparently directed from a wheel chair, and it's tempting to locate some of its static, formal qualities in the personal restrictions faced by the director. But this cool, intense, and very Japanese piece is stylistically rooted in the country's cinematic past, while at the same time offering provocative work familiar characteristic of this director. In his most famous film, Realm Of The Senses (aka: Ai No Corrida), made 25 years ago, dangerous sexual activity was explicit. In Gohatto (trans: Taboo), things are far less in the open. The expression of sex has been replaced with its obsession although, for Oshima, the irrationality of arousal still remains anti-authoritarian, as it creates impulses that are hard to resist.

For those more used to the straight samurai of old, Oshima's suggestions of cuddles beneath the kimono is a surprise (more outrage was generated in Japan, where it was felt more strongly that such suggestions ran against a proud tradition). One can never imagine stouthearted Toshiro Mifune, the most famous cinematic samurai from the previous generation, falling for another soldier and interrupting his role in Seven Samurai for a romp in the dojo. Cult actor/director 'Beat' Takeshi, here playing Captain Toshizo Hijikata, seems at first sight an odd choice for this sort of drama too, until one remembers the gay gunman he played so convincingly in Takashi Ishii's Gonin (1995). With his impassive face he reduces introspection to the reoccurring flicker of his (real life) tic, which, most aptly here, can suggest everything and nothing. Hijikata's internal narrative, first quizzical about Sozabura's lovers then perturbed about his effect on the garrison, suggests growing doubts resolved only in the final, memorable scene.

In Gohatto, much of the interest of the film lays in the degree in which Sozaburo's beauty arouses the interest of the men around him. Some are openly attracted to him (notably Tashiro, who shortly attempts to climb into the bed with him). Others are on the edge, like Inspector Yamazaki, charged with taking him to the brothel in Shimabara to introduce the youth to women. Most are affected in one way or another; most enigmatically are Hojikata and his superior and close colleague Commander Kondo (Yoichi Sai). As Hojikata observes, "a samurai can be undone by a love of men." But then he wonders too "Why are we both so indulgent with Sozabura?" and Kondo's rectitude and conspicuous silence hides, we suspect, a greater interest in the youth than he might wish to admit.

Oshima's visual scheme creates a film full of the bare, dark wood interiors of the militia base and the mud brown of uniforms, where just a few significant colours stand out. During the early beheading of the renegade samurai by Sozabuta, it is the red splash of the executed man's blood. At other times, Sozabuta wears a unique white robe (the Japanese colour of death). His is a presence and beauty shortly associated with a form of annihilation. In a place full of military men, that we see this feminine youth kill most often is no surprise. Compared to his contemporaries, he is the most adept at the sword unless fazed by romantic entanglements. It's an obvious irony that the object of homosexual affection is also the most deadly of the men; there's more in the fact that a group of iron-hearted soldiers can be so easily divided by an 'enemy' within, one neither fierce nor commanding.

There's another mystery in Gohatto, besides who exactly is sleeping with Sozabuta and who wants to. It's who is the murderer of Yuzawa (Tomorowo Taguchi), and doubts as to the truth of the case persist. This, and the attempt to apprehend the intruders at the base ("they call these samurai?") provide the main impetus of the plot. Like so many great Japanese films of the past, Oshima's says a lot in restraint. Here the arrangement of seated figures within the frame can suggest unspoken tensions, order is paramount, and the use of the camera is elegant and discreet. Some see the resulting style dull, when it is a slower, more contemplative way of seeing the world, one where not every question is answered.

What exactly is 'taboo' in Gohatto is clearly the issue of homosexuality - although confusingly for Western audiences such matters are not explicitly forbidden. Reference is made to the military code, which hangs on the barrack walls. Extracts appear on screen too, but no mention is made of prohibiting gay relations between soldiers. A man may be beheaded for illicitly borrowing money, but sleeping with his comrades at arms, while gossip worthy, is only really of concern when discipline is threatened. There "no secrets on Heaven and Earth (and) everyone knows it," says one of the intertitles, and Hojikata himself refers to the "tacit understanding" which normally keeps things in check. A policy which roughly equates to the modern American army's own "Don't ask, don't tell."

The film is helped immensely by Ryuichi Sakamoto's incessant, metronomic score, the steady beat of which considerably amplifies the obsessions and drawn out tensions of events. Like Oshima's interiors, it is uncluttered music, the muted colours dashed with an occasional significant tone. Now and again, urgency and violence break into this world: the initial beheading scene, the murderer's attacks, or the sword battle by the river. As a package, the result readily deserves art house admirers - especially as the director saves the best scene for last, expressing both Hojikata's final position, and a main thread of Gohatto, with hardly a cut more than necessary. Recommended.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: