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Archive for February 18th, 2018

by Jared Dec

Song of the Horse (1971?, Akira Kurosawa)

p Akira Kurosawa d Akira Kurosawa w akira kurosawa m ??? e ???

Hiroyuki Kawase (narrator), Noboru Mitami (narrator)

Everyone reading this likely knows who Akira Kurosawa is. Whether you prefer Ozu or Mizoguchi is irrelevant in the face of the reality that no other Japanese director would have gotten anywhere near the attention in the West they have were it not for Akira Kurosawa opening the world’s eyes to the cinema of the East. It is hard to argue that any other figure in Japanese cinema or even Asian cinema as a whole is as important from an objective perspective. I may be preaching to the choir here, but his importance needs to be established before we discuss why this film is so bafflingly unknown anywhere in the world. Most normal film buffs will say Kurosawa made 30 films and since the release of 1993’s Madadayo, they would be correct in saying 30 of Kurosawa’s films were available anywhere in the world. That does not mean however that Kurosawa only made 30 films. There are two co-productions he was involved with that remain unavailable though I am ignoring those. No I am here to tell you about the mysterious 31st film, Song of the Horse, which can now finally be seen after over four decades of complete obscurity.

1970 was a rough year for Kurosawa, Dodes’ka-den was a monumental flop that essentially bankrupted everyone who had bet on Kurosawa making a comeback. The Japanese film industry itself was in near collapse, and there was no funding for Kurosawa to make another big-budget epic like the ones he was so famous for. Out of options and strapped for cash, Kurosawa allegedly took the advice of friend and contemporary Shohei Imamura and attempted to make a low-budget TV documentary. The logic was low budget meant low risk and Kurosawa would likely make a profit that would prove to investors once again that he was a capable filmmaker at least in some aspect. Now is when the story gets hazy. The few places with information on this film claim that Song of the Horse premiered on Japanese TV in August of 1970. However, the one single other review of this film that I have found claims the horse races involved occured in June of 1971 making a 1970 release date impossible. This confusion and the lack of any other information to the contrary is why I have included a “?” next to the year. Regardless of when the film was released, it was likely not even the moderate success that Kurosawa hoped for, with the film allegedly never being shown anywhere again after the premiere. Kurosawa would attempt suicide in late 1971, and though he survived, it is a strange thought that in an alternate universe, Song of the Horse would have been the last film Kurosawa ever directed.

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by Sam Juliano

The Greatest Television Series Countdown Part 2 will commence on Sunday, March 11, and will run all the way until July 23, though there will be two twelve (12) day breaks, one in April and one in late May for the Tribeca Film Festival and the second annual Allan Fish Online Film Festival respectively.  The schedule has been sent out via group e mail to all the writers, and preparations to meet that March 11th start are in place.

Lucille,  Sammy, Jeremy and I braved the Saturday night snow to attend the Leonia Player’s Guild production of Neil Simon’s 1991 “Lost in Yonkers” last night at the Civil War Drill Hall Theater on Grand Ave. Directed by Christopher Malone the play featured outstanding performances by Dori Persson as Grandma, Rachel Alt as Bella and young Frankie Tinelli as Arty. The attractive minimalist staging seemed just right for this popular Simon work, which was brought to the screen in 1993 by Martha Coolidge. (more…)

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