Archive for July 23rd, 2010

by Allan Fish

The first in my series of generally unheralded masterworks begins with a small mini-series of works by Yoshishige Yoshida, which in turn begins a longer series on Japanese cinema.

(Japan 1962 113m) DVD2 (Japan only, no English subs)

Aka. Akitsu onsen

Like a flower in the tempest

p  Masao Shirai  d/w  Yoshishige Yoshida  novel  Shinji Fujiwara  ph  Toichiro Narushima  ed  Yoshi Sugihara  m  Hikaru Hayashi  art  Tatsuo Hamada  cos  Mariko Okada

Mariko Okada (Shinko), Hiroyuki Nagato (Shusaku Kawamoto), Sumiko Hidaka (O-Tami), Asao Koike (Osaki), Akira Nagoya (Shimamura), Shigeru Koyama (Tsuda), Kojiro Kusanagi (Army), Masako Nakamura (Harue), Kukuko Sayo (Osumi), So Yamamura (Mikami), Eijiro Tono (priest), Teiji Tonoyama (Rokusuke),

More than perhaps any other national cinema that of the Japanese has been the most revelatory in my acquaintance.  That which demands the closet look, the biggest rewriting of conventional history.  Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kurosawa, even Naruse, merely the tip of the iceberg.  Kinoshita, Shimizu, Yamanaka, Gosho, Ichikawa, even Yoshimura; still deeper.  Then the new wave brigade, led by Oshima, Suzuki and Teshigahara; still you’re not even close.  Then Masumura gets thrown into the melting pot, the eclecticism of Jissoji may provoke the odd murmured “who?” until acquaintance makes one ashamed of the pronoun.  Yet of all directors whose name belongs not only up there with the first four icons but perhaps even above one or two of them, it’s Yoshishige Yoshida. 

            Akitsu Springs is set in and around the Akitsu health spa and its tale begins in literally the last 24 hours of World War II.  Shusaku, suffering from tuberculosis, has come to Akitsu to die.  One young girl, Shinko, refuses to let him and invigorates him on the slow path to recovery.  They fall in love, and in one of his darker moments, Shusaku asks Shinko to join him in double suicide.  She accepts his love but isn’t ready to die.  Neither, it transpires, is Shusaku, and slowly they part.  Time passes, Shinko finds out that Shusaku is married with a child, and he seems to have no interest in her any more. (more…)

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