[Okoto e Sasuke] T. int.: Okoto and Sasuke. Sog.: dal romanzo Shunkinsho di Junichiro Tanizaki. Scen.: Yasujiro Shimazu. F.: Takashi Kuwabara. Scgf.: Yoneichi Wakita. Su.: Kaname Hashimoto. Int.: Kinuyo Tanaka (Okoto), Kokichi Takada (Sasuke), Tatsuo Saito (Ritaro), Hideo Fujino (Yasuzaemon), Fumiko Katsuragi (Shigeme), Yoshiko Tsubouchi (la sorella di Okoto), Reikichi Kawamura (Teizo), Akio Isono (Naokichi), Junko Matsui (Oraku), Sojin Kamiyama (Kengyo Shunsho). Prod.: Shochiku
35mm. D.: 100′. Bn.
This second work by Shimazu included in this year’s programme expresses the variety of his output. A relatively rare excursion for the director into the period film or jidai-geki (though not into the territory of the samurai film), it is based on the novel A Portrait of Shunkin (Shunkinsho) by Junichiro Tanizaki later to be filmed by Daisuke Ito and Kaneto Shindo. Tanizaki himself was critical of Shimazu’s adaptation, and the critic for “Eiga Nenkan” regretted the loss of the “universal quality” of the love story in the original novel. Yet other critics responded favourably, propelling the film to third place in that year’s “Kinema Junpo” Top Ten. And indeed, the film is both a remarkable work in its own right, and with its musical theme, a fascinating exploration of the new territory opened up to Japanese cinema by the coming of synchronised sound.
Shimazu’s largely understated directorial style is intriguingly at odds with the me- lodramatic premise of a film concerned with what Paul Coates terms “extreme male masochism”, a theme which escalates into an climax which is both shocking in theme and startlingly avantgarde in technique. The great actress Kinuyo Tanaka gives one of her most assertive early performances in the role of a blind musician.