Jolly Cinema > 21:30


Teinosuke Kinugasa

(In case of rain, the screening will be canceled)


Tuesday 27/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

While the majority of jidaigeki (Japanese period films) are set in the Edo Period (1603-1868) or in the Era of Warring States (Sengoku jidai) that preceded it, Kinugasa was something of a specialist in period films set in a more remote past. Kinugasa’s most famous sound film, Jigokumon (shown at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2015) is set in the Heian Era (794-1185). This film, made the year before, is set even earlier, in the Nara Period (710-784), when the city of Heijokyo, now Nara, south of present-day Kyoto, became the country’s first permanent capital. Under the acknowledged influence of Tang dynasty China and fired by zeal for the then recently imported creed of Buddhism, Japan attained a new level of cultural sophistication and artistic achievement.
The film focuses on the creation of one of Japan’s iconic monuments, the Great Buddha enshrined in the vast temple of Todaiji in Nara (which until the late 20th century remained the largest wooden building in the world). In a heavily fictionalised version of events, Kazuo Hasegawa plays the architect hired to create the idol, and the film charts the conflict with those opposed to its creation. The film was based on a successful 1940 play by Hideo Nagata (1885-1949), an author of modern shingeki theatre who was himself the son of a priest, albeit in Japan’s other traditional religion of Shinto. It was a big budget production with contributions from many expert technical staff as well as a starry cast led by Kazuo Hasegawa and Machiko Kyo (1924-2019). While Joseph Anderson and Donald Richie were later to dismiss the film as doing “no credit to its director”, it was considered important enough to be submitted to the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, where it played in competition, losing out to Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la peur). Kinugasa would scoop the Palme d’Or the following year for Jigokumon.

Alexander Jacoby e Johan Nordström

Cast and Credits

Ass. regia: Kenji Misumi. Sog.: Hideo Nagata. Scen.: Ryuichiro Yagi. F.: Kohei Sugiyama. Scgf.: Kisaku Ito. Mus.: Ikuma Dan. Int.: Kazuo Hasegawa (Tatedo no Kunihito), Machiko Kyo (Mayame), Mitsuko Mito (Tachibana no Sakuyako), Sumiko Hidaka (Omiya no Morime), Denjiro Okochi (Gyoki), Sakae Ozawa (Kuninaka no Kimimaro), Yataro Kurokawa (Fujiwara no Nakamaro), Tatsuya Ishiguro (Ogusa no Kumotari). Prod.: Masaichi Nagata per Daiei. 35mm. D.: 128’. Bn.