Akanishi Kakita

Mansaku Itami

Sog.: da un racconto di Naoya Shiga. Scen.: Mansaku Itami. F.: Hiroshige Urushiyama. Mus.: Nakaba Takahashi. Su.: Shigeharu Tsukagoshi, Masataka Ikedo, Nobuo Yamauchi. Ass. regia: Kiyoshi Saeki, Masaki Mouri, Minoru Sano. Int.: Chiezo Kataoka (Akanishi Kakita/Kai Harada), Shosaku Sugiyama (Tetsunosuke Matsumae), Sojin Kamiyama (Aki), Yoko Umemura (Masaoka), Mineko Mori (Onami), Takashi Shimura (Taranoshin Tsunomata), Takeo Kawasaki (Monban), Masao Seki (Sabaemon di Irifuneya), Eiko Higashi (principessa), Michisaburo Segawa (Date Hyobu). Prod.: Kataoka Chiezo Productions. 35mm. 77′. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Mansaku Itami (1900-1946) ranks alongside Yamanaka as one of the outstanding filmmakers active in the jidai-geki during the mid-1930s. His treatment of the genre was primarily comic, and with films such as the silent slapstick satire Kokushi Muso (Unrivalled Hero, 1932), he sent up the codes of bushido in graceful yet daringly subversive fashion.
Based on a short story by Naoya Shiga with a screenplay by Itami himself, Akanishi Kakita is described by Anderson and Richie as: “a genuine character study of a samurai who was not a hero in any conventional sense of the word, being instead a very ordinary man, weak in body if strong in spirit”. In this witty and engaging film, Itami mocks the conventions of the genre and subverts sacred cows such as the custom of hara-kiri, while casting his regular star Chiezo Kataoka in two contrasting roles. As Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto writes, “Itami pretends to showcase Chiezo’s star value by casting him in the two leading roles but in fact develops a metacriticism of jidai-geki‘s obsolete generic conventions by contrasting the naturalistic look of [the hero] Akanishi and the utterly artificial, antique-looking appearance of [his opponent] Kai”. The comic use of sound technology is apparent in the incongruous use of a Chopin piano piece to accompany the opening scene.
As with Yamanaka, Itami’s career as a director was at an end by 1938, when, after Kyojin-den (The Giant), a version of Les Misérables, worsening health forced his retirement. Nevertheless, he continued to write screenplays and essays until his death eight years later. His son was Juzo Itami, who sustained his father’s tradition of cinematic satire through the 1980s and 1990s.

Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström

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