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With THE EEL, director Shohei Imamura shows that eels are not just a tasty sushi treat but also a symbol of the human condition. Yamashita (Koji Yakusho) kills his unfaithful wife and turns himself in to the police. Eight years later he is paroled and must try to find redemption. Setting up shop as a barber, he encounters several unusual characters, including a young man who hopes to attract UFOs and a woman with a troubled past who tries to reel him in with delicious lunch boxes. Yamashita, however, is obsessed with his pet eel, his only companion during his years in prison. In his previous films (THE INSECT WOMAN, BALLAD OF NARAYAMA), Imamura has often suggested the closeness between humans and animals; in THE EEL, he takes the connection one step further, having his main character carry on hilarious dialogues with his pet. Based on the novel YAMI NI HIRAMEKU by Akira Yoshimura, the film marks Imamura's triumphant return to filmmaking after an eight-year break. When the film won the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, Imamura became one of only three directors to have won the honor twice.