Archive for the ‘Japanese films’ Category

Aka. Tokyo Monogatari, 1953 is one among the best 100 films. It is directed by Ozu. Any film of Ozu suffers considerably in retelling. He is a master of understatement which for a film maker would mean a visual narrative that somewhere hovers between make-believe and reality so finely pared to an extent life and art becomes almost interchangeable. Ozu’s use of camera I had already touched upon in my appreciation of his Late Spring. Indoors points of view are fixed at the eye level of characters from a low angle. Yet within each framed composition, Ozu’s camera does not move. While creating an intimate, familial atmosphere, in the case of presenting the lives of the Hirayama family, he prefers subtle gestures and mannerisms, prosaic conversations, daily rituals, and simple acts of kindness that are natural to them. Throughout the film, there is a pervasive sound of movement: ticking clocks, churning steamboats, passing trains. Beauty of life that Ozu describes is to be experienced than described.


It is a story about generational divide all the more sharp considering how vital culture, tradition Aesthetics are for the Japanese. In a post-war Japan all that was truly unique to them are being eroded. Modernization is the culprit and against it growing old has its insidious effect. An elderly couple, Shukichi (Chishu Ryu) and Tomi Hirayama (Chieko Higashiyama), venture forth from a small coastal village in southern Japan to visit their married children in Tokyo. Their eldest son, Koichi (So Yamamura), a doctor running a clinic in a working-class part of town, is too busy to show them around town, and their eldest daughter is occupied with her beauty salon. Is their condition anything extraordinary? In literature we may find examples most notably from King Lear and Pere Goriot of fathers treated vilely by their offsprings. Ozu has no use for such drama to paint the sad truth of human condition. It has been so then as it is now. Crabbed age and youth cannot march in step. Where life ceases to hold meaning for the former as was hinted in their youth, for the latter significance of life is entirely of another context and language. It is as strange as the argot or a coded language the youth would employ to baffle their peers. It is a misalliance if fathers and their offsprings are set upon finding a single yarstick to measure the beat of their lives.


The elderly couple are naturally disappointed since their children are as removed from their lives by their routine as their village is as backward as Tokyo is most advanced. Only their widowed daughter-in-law, Noriko, played memorably by Setsuko Hara, is willing to take time off work to show the couple the sights of Tokyo. The older children arrange for their parents to visit Atami Hot Springs, but the unimpressed couple soon returns to Tokyo. Tomi stays with her daughter-in-law while Shukichi goes out drinking with some of his buddies, and the bunch complains about their vague sense of disappointment toward their children. Not knowing how to entertain their parents (and to save money), the siblings decide to send them to a noisy, crowded spa. Unable to enjoy themselves, the elderly couple return early, only to be sent away for the evening when their unexpected arrival interferes with Shige’s scheduled club meeting. Consequently, Mrs. Hirayama (Chieko Higashiyama) spends a final evening with Noriko before heading back to Onomichi, and Mr. Hirayama (Chishu Ryu) finds some old friends in town, hoping to be invited to spend the evening, but in the process, gets hopelessly drunk. On the following day, Mrs. Hirayama offers the adult children some words of reassurance at the train station, and the couple leave. (ack: Synopsis- Jonathan Crow/ http://www.allmovie.com) .

September/October 2006 Directed by Yasujiro Ozu Produced by Takeshi Yamamoto Written by Kôgo Noda Yasujiro Ozu Starring Chishu Ryu Chieko Higashiyama Setsuko Hara Music by Kojun Saitô Cinematography Yuuharu Atsuta Editing by Yoshiyasu Hamamura Distributed by Shochiku (Japan theatrical) Release date(s) 3 November 1953 (Japan) Running time 136 min. Language Japanese (wikipedia) Similar Movies Late Spring (1949, Yasujiro Ozu) The Trip to Bountiful (1985, Peter Masterson) The Joy Luck Club (1993, Wayne Wang) Maborosi (1995, Hirokazu Kore-eda) The Ceremony (1971, Nagisa Oshima) Café Lumiere (2004, Hou Hsiao-Hsien) Kurosudo Nooto (2007, Isao Yukisada) Gone is the One Who Held Me the Dearest in the World (2002, Ma Xiaoying) A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2007, Wayne Wang) Movies with the Same Personnel Early Summer (1951, Yasujiro Ozu) Late Autumn (1960, Yasujiro Ozu) Late Spring (1949, Yasujiro Ozu) Floating Weeds (1959, Yasujiro Ozu) An Autumn Afternoon (1962, Yasujiro Ozu) Good Morning (1959, Yasujiro Ozu) Early Autumn (1961, Yasujiro Ozu) No Regrets for Our Youth (1946, Akira Kurosawa) Other Related Movies is related to: The Funeral (1984, Juzo Itami) influenced: Cherry Blossoms: Hanami (2008, Doris Dörrie) all movie

Memorable Quotes:

Kyoko: Isn’t life disappointing?

Noriko: [smiles] Yes, it is.


# Voted #7 in Total Film’s 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time list (November 2005). # The original negative was lost soon after the film was completed, due to a fire at the vault of the lab in Yokohama city. The film had to be released using prints made from a dupe protective negative. (Imdb)


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The Burmese Harp (ビルマの竪琴, Biruma no tategoto?) was based on a children’s novel written by Takeyama Michio.
It is also known as Harp of Burma). This 1956 black-and-white Japanese film was remade in 1985 in colour and with different actors. Both are directed by Kon Ichikawa. The film was nominated for the 1957 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The Burmese Harp begins in July of 1945, just days before the dropping of the first atomic bomb, which soon led to Japan’s surrender.

To sum up this film in a sentence is about a turncoat. The beauty of this film stems from what is often used in a bad sense.  Especially a turncoat is one who turns back on a cause he is committed to. In this case the central character is a soldier. If he is a turncoat to the cause of killing, well I say the world needs more of such turncoats. In a perfect world the only cause we need to know is a commitment to life. Since we are in this imperfect world this movie is all the more reason to be included among 100 best films of my generation. Cpl. Mizushima(Shoji Yasui), a Japanese soldier, becomes the harp (or) saung player of Captain Inouye’s group, comprised of soldiers who fight and sing to raise morale in World War II, Burmese campaign.
It was the bard of Avon who said,’the clothes maketh the man.’ This adage is very much put to test in this memorable anti-war movie. Set against the final days of World War II, a group of exhausted, war-scarred Japanese soldiers prepare to return to Japan. The film focuses on Cpl Mizushima who is sent to a  company  of soldiers who refuse to believe the war is over. He is presumed dead when a battle destroys their hillside encampment. To rejoin his fellow soldiers, Shoji steals the robes of a Buddhist monk and begins to make his way across the countryside. But along the way, he realizes from the hundreds of abandoned, unburied war casualties that he was on the wrong side as a perpetrator; significance of his cloth,  takes hold of him as he tends to the bodies. Hundreds of Japanese soldiers’ corpses are rotting in piles and being devoured by vultures. After watching a British medical team bury the body of an unknown Japanese soldier with grace and dignity, Mizushima realizes his mission in life will be to bury each of his dead comrades, a gruesome task that he begins immediately. As a soldier’s uniform made each of these end up a prey to vultures on an alien land he assigns his monks robes as a call to duty far above violence.   Meanwhile, Shoji’s friends mount a search for him, eventually noticing the monk to whom he bears an uncanny resemblance.
Mizushima’s colleagues try everything they can to persuade him to rejoin them, even delivering to him a talking parrot that they teach to say “Hey, Mizushima, let’s go back to Japan together.” In the film’s most amazing moments, he stands outside the prison fence silently appearing nothing short of Christ-like as he plays his harp along with the singing of his mystified and tearful friends.

Rentaro Mikuni     –     Captain Inouye
Shôji Yasui           –  Cpl. Mizushima
Jun Hamamura      –  Pvt. Ito
Taketoshi Naito     –  Pvt. Kobayashi
Ko Nishimura     Baba (as Akira Nishimura)
Directed by     Kon Ichikawa
Produced by     Masayuki Takagi
Written by     Takeyama Michio (novel),
Natto Wada
Release date)     21 January 1956
Running time     116 minutes
Language     Japanese
Similar Movies
All Quiet on the Western Front  (1930, Lewis Milestone)
Fires on the Plain  (1959, Kon Ichikawa)
Human Condition, Part 1: No Greater Love  (1958, Masaki Kobayashi)
Paths of Glory  (1957, Stanley Kubrick)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Biruma No Tatekoto  (1985, Kon Ichikawa)
The Makioka Sisters  (1983, Kon Ichikawa)
Enjo  (1958, Kon Ichikawa)
Odd Obsession  (1959, Kon Ichikawa)
The Outcast  (1962, Kon Ichikawa)
47 Ronin  (1994, Kon Ichikawa)
Visions of Eight: The Olympics of Motion Picture Achievement  (1973, Milos Forman, Kon Ichikawa, Claude Lelouch, Yuri Ozerov, Arthur Penn, Michael Pfleghar, John Schlesinger, Mai Zetterling)
The Tokyo Olympiad  (1965, Kon Ichikawa)
Other Related Movies
is related to:      The Best Years of Our Lives  (1946, William Wyler)
(all movie)

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This Japanese film (Banshun in Japanese) is the second of post-war productions from Yasujirō Ozu. Unlike the other famous and more well known to international audience Akira Kurosawa, he prefers to work on much a simpler scale. Yasujiro Ozu is the most Japanese of Japan’s filmmakers, who dispenses with an elaborate plot or action to keep the viewer’s attention. Kurosawa may keep several cameras rolling simultaneously to give his actions fluidity or let them leap past picture frame as in Seven Samurai while Ozu’s camera remains three feet above the floor: he, with his subjective camera technique prompts the viewer to see his films from a Japanese perspective. According to film critic Iwasaki Akira,’ The Japanese people spend their lives seated on ‘tatami’ mattings spread over the floor;…therefore the eye of the camera also must be at this level.’ (“Yasujirō Ozu”, Film No 36, Summer 1963,p.9) Before I pass over to the plot and other matters I think his films uphold typically a Japanese virtue of ‘less is more.’ Like Sho, Japanese calligraphy there is a natural balance in both the characters and the composition as a whole’.
The plot is simple: There is a deep bond between a widowed father and his daughter who is ‘in her late spring.’ Does he let her serve his needs longer or give her away in marriage while there is time? It is based on Father and Daughter by Kazuo Hirotsu.
The story concerns Noriko, who lives happily with her widowed father and seems in no hurry to get married. Her father, a professor, however, wants to see her settled and conspires with his sister to trick Noriko into pursuing an arranged marriage. Not wishing to see the girl resign herself to spinsterhood, Shukuchi   ( Chisu Ryu) pretends that he himself is about to be married. Obvious in a middle-class home with such small living space as In Japan there will be no room for her, thus forcing her to seek comfort and joy elsewhere. It is cruel to be pushed out of the family nest but love sometimes must be made of sterner stuff. Chisu Ryu was faultless as the father whose emotions always struck the right note as one who could warm up to the affection of his selfless daughter and equally show his concern at the way she was turning herself in the process into a aged spinster. The film stars Setsuko Hara, in her first of many collaborations with Ozu.
Directed by     Yasujirō Ozu
Produced by     Shochiku Films Ltd.
Written by     Kazuo Hirotsu
Kôgo Noda
Yasujiro Ozu
Music by     Senji Itô
Cinematography     Yuuharu Atsuta
Running time     108 min.


Chishu Ryu … Shukichi Somiya
Setsuko Hara … Noriko Somiya
Yumeji Tsukioka … Aya Kitagawa
Haruko Sugimura … Masa Taguchi
Hohi Aoki … Katsuyoshi
Jun Usami … Shuichi Hattori

Similar Movies
Tokyo Story  (1953, Yasujiro Ozu)
Early Summer  (1951, Yasujiro Ozu)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Early Summer  (1951, Yasujiro Ozu)
Tokyo Story  (1953, Yasujiro Ozu)
Late Autumn  (1960, Yasujiro Ozu)
An Autumn Afternoon  (1962, Yasujiro Ozu)
Floating Weeds  (1959, Yasujiro Ozu)
Equinox Flower  (1958, Yasujiro Ozu)
Early Autumn  (1961, Yasujiro Ozu)
Good Morning  (1959, Yasujiro Ozu)

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