Kawashima’s last film at Shochiku is a remarkable achievement, notwithstanding the director’s own sense of being ill at ease with his material. He commented that “I thought that the women drawn by Yasushi Inoue were extremely hard to bring to life. Yet, at the same time I was relatively fond of them. It is not that I don’t like them now, but I do get somewhat bothered by Yasushi Inoue’s sweetness”. Kawashima’s defeatist vision is arguably apparent, though, in the changes he made in tone and emphasis to Inoue’s story. The “Kinema Junpo” reviewer remarked that, in the original story, the main character was portrayed as an après-guerre masculine businessman, while in Shochiku’s treatment he became emasculated, allowing the two main female leads to take centre stage. Italian and international viewers might think of Fellini as Kawashima charts a male protagonist’s emasculation in a finely nuanced exploration of how women and men are drawn to each other, often against their own wishes or better judgement. The “Kinema Junpo” reviewer praised the way in which Kawashima infused the melodrama with an air of modernity. Certainly, there is a stylistic modernity to the film, parts of which feel experimental and almost avant-garde. The opening sequence in particular has a daring theatricality, as when the camera pulls out to reveal the ‘intro’ as a screen within a screen, and the soundtrack has a refreshingly anarchistic quality.
Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström
Cast and Credits
Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1953) di Yasushi Inoue. Scen.: Toshio Shiina. F.: Toru Nishikawa. Scgf.: Seiichiro Sakai. Mus.: Toshiro Mayuzumi. Int.: Koji Tsuruta (Kaitaro Shirato), Yumeji Tsukioka (Toko Saita), Chikage Awashima (Reiko Danjo), Eitaro Shindo (Shuhei Saita), Minoru Ohki (Sankichi Araki), Shiro Osaka (Genko), Akihiko Katayama (Saiki). Prod.: Shochiku. 35mm. D.: 120’. Bn.
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