Jolly Cinema > 18:10


Teinosuke Kinugasa


Thursday 29/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

While working at Daiei in the 1950s, Kinugasa established a regular collaboration with actress Fujiko Yamamoto, then at the peak of her career. Starting with Kawa no aru shitamachi no hanashi (Story of a Town with a River), Yamamoto featured in no less than 15 of the 16 films directed by Kinugasa between 1955 and 1961 and starred in 12 of them.
Four of these films, including Shirasagi, were based on novels by the early 20th century author Kyoka Izumi, a writer of “decadent romanticism” (Charles Shiro Inouye’s phrase) celebrated for his stylistic virtuosity and facility with melodramatic narrative. He was famous both for ghost stories and for often tragic romances set on the margins of respectable society. His popularity in the late Meiji, Taisho and early Showa eras had spawned numerous stage adaptations and films such as Mizoguchi’s Taki no shiraito (Cascading White Threads, 1933) and Orizuru Osen (The Downfall of Osen, 1934). The 1950s saw a new cycle of Izumi adaptations, many of them in colour, of which Shirasagi is one of the most distinguished.
The source novel Shirasagi was serialised in the “Asahi Shinbun” newspaper in 1909. Its story concerns a geisha who falls in love with a painter but is pursued by a wealthy merchant. It became one of the classics of shinpa theatre, and a 1941 film version, in which Takako Irie starred under Yasujiro Shimazu’s direction, was a major hit. Kinugasa’s remake, along with his other Izumi adaptations and Kon Ichikawa’s Nihonbashi (Bridge of Japan, 1956) helped to earn Yamamoto a reputation as the finest interpreter of Izumi’s heroines on screen, as theatrical grande dame Yaeko Mizutani was on stage.
Shirasagi played in competition and won a special mention at Cannes in 1959. Reporting on the festival for “Sight and Sound”, John Gillett wrote: “Kinugasa revealed how colour can be used to evoke a deceptively quiet world of exquisite interiors and repressed emotions.”

Alexander Jacoby e Johan Nordström

Cast and Credits

Sog.: Kyoka Izumi. Scen.: Teinosuke Kinugasa, Jun Sagara. F.: Kimio Watanabe. Scgf.: Tokuji Shibata. Mus.: Ichiro Saito. Int.: Fujiko Yamamoto (Oshino), Keizo Kawasaki (Jun’ichi Inaki), Yosuke Irie (Takashi Inaki), Shuji Sano (Kumajiro Gosaka), Hitomi Nozoe (Nanae Date), Hideo Takamatsu (Yokichi Tatsumi), Tamae Kiyokawa (Hideko Gosaka), Rieko Sumi (Wakakichi). Prod.: Masaichi Nagata per Daiei. DCP. D.: 97’. Col.