During the period 1951-1960, Yoshimura realised an impressive sequence of films focusing on working women in Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto, which used personal dramas to explore the dilemmas of a nation in the throes of rapid and irreversible change. On this film he collaborated with a female screenwriter, Sumie Tanaka, whose influence arguably brought a particular intensity to the film’s depiction of what critic Hitoaki Kono called “a new type of Kyoto woman”. The film vividly explores the postwar clash between tradition and modernity through the story of a kimono designer’s affair with a married scientist.
One of Yoshimura’s most moving films, Yoru no Kawa is also one of his most visually striking: his first film in colour, it fully exploited the potential of the new medium. Cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa drew on the colours of the kimono patterns designed by the film’s heroine while reflecting what Derek Owen calls “the dark qualities of the protagonist’s romantic entanglements” and, additionally, hinting at a political subtext: Yoshimura himself specifically associated the striking use of red, white and blue with the values of “liberty, equality and fraternity”. Miyagawa described the city of Kyoto as “a filmmaker’s dream”, and his lovely photography records the beauty of its urban landscapes, which then still largely preserved its historic wooden architecture.
Cast and Credits
T. alt.: Undercurrent. Sog.: Hisao Sawano. Scen.: Sumie Tanaka. F.: Kazuo Miyagawa. Scgf.: Akira Naito. Mus.: Sei Ikeno. Int.: Fujiko Yamamoto (Kiwa), Ken Uehara (il professor Takemura), Michiko Ono (Miyoko), Kazuko Ichikawa (Atsuko), Michiko Ai (Setsuko), Keizo Kawasaki (Goro Okamoto), Eijiro Tono (Yujiro Funaki), Shunji Natsume (Seikichi), Eitaro Ozawa (Omiya). Prod.: Daiei. 35mm. Col.
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