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Archive for September 10th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1933 93m) not on DVD

Aka. Koi no hana saku Izu no odoriko

I am a floating weed, I spend my youth in travelling

d  Heinosuke Gosho  w  Akira Fushimi  novel  Yasunari Kawabata  ph  Joji Ohara  art  Takashi Kanasu, Noburo Kimura, Ryonosuke Akita

Kinuyo Tanaka (Kaoru), Den Obinata (Mizuhara), Tokuji Kobayashi (Eikichi), Kinuko Wakamizu (Chiyoko), Eiko Takamatsu (Otatsu), Shizue Hyodo (Yuriko), Jun Arai (Zembei), Ryoichi Takeuchi (Ryuichi), Shizue Akiyama (maid), Reikichi Kawamura (Kubota), Takeshi Sakamoto (Hattori), Choko Iida (geisha), Ryotaro Mizushima (Tamura), Kiyoshi Seino (Kisaku),

One of the greatest Japanese directors”, wrote Georges Sadoul in the 1960s, “the peer of his better known contemporary Kenji Mizoguchi.”  It’s a statement to generate controversy even forty years on, especially in western critical circles, where Mizoguchi is as venerated as anyone in his national cinema; one necessitating justification and also a little clarification.  After all, in the 1960s, what did the west know of Mizoguchi aside from his run of early fifties classics?  Likewise, what do we, the seen-it-all cineastes of the 21st century, know of Heinosuke Gosho?  In both cases, the answer is ‘not a lot’. 

            Ironically, if one just stopped at the opening sentence and ignored the credits, stopping instead at my tagline, one would be forgiven for thinking the statement referred to Ozu.  Not so, and indeed when one looks through the landscape of thirties Japanese cinema, one understands how our appreciation of it should be tailored more by the likes of Donald Richie, who knew back when Sadoul was writing, and others of his ilk.  Not counting Mizoguchi and Ozu, that decade also saw Shimizu, Shimazu, Yamanaka, Itami, Naruse and Uchida working…and Gosho.  There are still films I have been unable to see, directors I haven’t been able to track down, perhaps some I haven’t even heard of.  So vast is the canvas of the period.  And all this in such financially constrictive times; Gosho had made the first Japanese talking picture two years earlier, The Neighbour’s Wife and Mine, and Dancing Girl, based on an important literary source of the period, was intended to be one, too, but it cost less to shoot it silent, so Gosho had to comply.  (more…)

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