Teinosuke Kinugasa

Scen.: Teinosuke Kinugasa. F.: Kohei Sugiyama. Scgf.: Yozo Tomonari. Int.: Junosuke Bando (Rikiya), Akiko Chihaya (sua sorella maggiore), Yukiko Ogawa (donna del tiro con l’arco), Ippei Soma (uomo col manganello), Yoshie Nakagawa (vecchia mezzana), Misao Seki (vecchio inquilino), Teruko Nijo (donna scambiata), Myoichiro Ozawa (uomo litigioso). Prod.: Kinugasa Eiga Renmei, Shochiku. 35mm. L.: 1786 m. D.: 87’ a 18 f/s. Bn.

Foto © National Film Archive of Japan

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

After completing Kurutta ichipeiji, Kinugasa returned to conventional commercial film production, directing 19 films in as many months. Most were chanbara (action-packed period films). The second of his avant-garde silent films, Jujiro, emerged in the wake of this artisan period, and was paradoxically described by Kinugasa himself as   a “chanbara without swordfights”. A more straightforward work in narrative terms than Kurutta ichipeiji, it unfolds in the pleasure quarters in the Yoshiwara district of Edo (today’s Tokyo), and traces a melodramatic story about a young man living with his devoted sister who is blinded in a quarrel with a rival for the affections of a courtesan.
Stylistically the film is notable for a remarkable expressionist use of light and shadow, extravagant camera angles, rapid travelling shots, dissolves and superimpositions. John Gillett wrote that “the bawdy, violent streets of the Yoshiwara district… have a Sternberlike shine and richness,” while William O. Gardner claims that Kinugasa “discovers an apt historical parallel for modern consumer society and its cinematic ‘dream factory’ in the ‘floating world’ (ukiyo) of courtesans and their patrons in Edo Japan”.
As with Kurutta ichipeiji, the film’s survival is a matter of lucky chance. After completing the film, Kinugasa left Japan to spend two years abroad, visiting Europe and the Soviet Union. As a result, Jujiro became one of the very few Japanese films screened in the West before World War II, being shown to largely admiring reviews in Berlin, Paris, New York and, in January 1930, at the Film Society in London. The print screened in Britain, with English intertitles, passed from the Film Society to the BFI, where it was preserved; it provided the source material for the present print.

Alexander Jacoby e Johan Nordström


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