Hanayome No Negoto

Heinosuke Gosho

T. int.: The Bride Talks in Her Sleep. Sog.: Tokichi Yuyama. Scen.: Akira Fushimi. F.: Joji Ohara. Scgf.: Yoneichi Wakita, Noburo Kimura, Takeshi Hoshino. Su.: Haruo Tsuchihashi, Kaname Hashimoto, Yoshio Yamada, Shunjiro Ninomiya, Mikio Jinbo, Torajiro Saito. Int.: Tokuji Kobayashi (Omura), Kinuyo Tanaka (Haruko, sua moglie), Tatsuo Saito (Saida), Ureo Egawa (Enatsu), Kenji Oyama (Okubo), Reiko Tani (Hiyama), Yumeko Aizome (Natsuko), Shizue Tatsuta (donna al bar). Prod.: Shochiku
35mm. D.: 57′. 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

This pair of gentle yet witty and inventive comedies is characteristic both of the formal experimentation of early Japanese sound cinema and of the social milieux that Shochiku tended to depict. Director Heinosuke Gosho had been responsible, in 1931, for the first wholly successful Japanese talking picture, The Neighbor’s Wife and Mine, screened at Bologna in the first installment of this retrospective in 2012. But silent films (albeit sometimes with post-sychronised musical scores) remained in the majority through the early 1930s. Little wonder, then, that these later comedies, dating respectively from 1933 and 1935, should foreground their status as talking pictures in their titles, and indeed, an imaginative use of the new sound technology is one of their greatest pleasures.

Ironically, Gosho himself remained critical of his early sound films. In 1934, he protested that Japanese filmmakers were still obliged to jump between silent and sound films, so that they were unable properly to acclimatise to the new medium. And he commented that the higher production costs of talkies led to a decline in intellectual sophistication – a trend which he claimed was exemplified by The Bride Talks in Her Sleep. The “Kinema Junpo” reviewer too was dismissive of Bride, stating that it failed to achieve the erotic note hinted at in the title.
Yet in retrospect the films look much better, and their slightness is part of their charm. “Virtually plotless, and feeling more like comic sketches than fully developed stories,” writes Arthur Nolletti, Jr, “these light comedies, or farces, take a wholly trivial matter (often a socially embarrassing situation) and use it as a springboard for a succession of gags”. In films pivoting around the sleeping habits of the title characters, “Gosho takes a matter of singular unimportance and teases comedy out of the fact that to his characters, this matter assumes an earth-shattering significance”. No question, much of the films’ distinction comes from the wit of Gosho’s direction and the charm of the acting, particularly of the heroines (Kinuyo Tanaka in Bride; Hiroko Kawasaki in Groom). Yet in both films, Gosho finds room for some shrewd observation of character and environment, subtly exploring the values and assumptions of the suburban petit bourgeoisie.¬†

Alexander Jacoby e Johan Nordström

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