Under The Blossoming Cherry Trees (1975) is an interesting late career film from director Masahiro Shinoda. It is an adaptation of a Ango Sakaguchi novel. The main metaphor of the film is that in the past cherry blossoms terrified people and could drive them to madness with their other worldly beauty. A savage mountain man (played by Tomisaburo Wakayama of the Lone Wolf and Cub samurai films with a 70s era pron mustache) slaughters a traveling party for their possession except for an exceptional beauty (Shindo's wife Shima Iwashita). Immediately he is bewitched by her and submits to her will, first by carrying her all the way back to his hut on his back and then kills his harem of wives at her bequest-she asks him to spare the least attractive and lame wife (Hiroko Isayama). Her demands escalate from new clothes taken from mountain traveling victims to the point where she has him sneak into town to murder people and bring back their heads so that she can stage elaborate dramas with the heads of towns people. It makes me wonder if these are politically symbolic-in the past he suggested that there political undercurrents in his film, but perhaps he has moved onto pure artistic conventions. It is a grotesque story that follows in the tradition of writers such as Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishima. The boasts exquisite framing, art direction-a rooster painted on the wall of the mountain hut is striking in particular. I noticed Shinoda uses wipes to transition between shots, a device that I associate with Kurosawa-not sure if this is new or if he has always used these transitions-I cannot quite recall. It is essentially a visually striking film that is somewhat abstract in its meaning not unlike the more avant-garde Himiko.