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Gonza the Spearman (1986)

Yari no Gonza (original title)
The tragic story of Gonza, a handsome ladies man, set in the Tokagawa Period, a time in which appearences are very important. Gonza competes with Bannojo for the honor to perform the tea ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Haruko Katô ...
Oyuki's nanny
Hideji Ôtaki ...
Iwaki
Kuniko Miyake ...
Iwaki's wife
Chôichirô Kawarasaki ...
Jinbei
...
Fumiemon
Jun Hamamura
Shôichi Ozawa
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hiromi Gô ...
Gonza Sasano
Shôhei Hino ...
Bannojo
...
Osai
Kaori Mizushima ...
Okiku
Misako Tanaka ...
Oyuki
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Storyline

The tragic story of Gonza, a handsome ladies man, set in the Tokagawa Period, a time in which appearences are very important. Gonza competes with Bannojo for the honor to perform the tea ceremony to celebrate the birth of an heir to the lord of their clan. To see the sacred tea scrolls Gonza promises to marry the daughter of the family which possesses them, even though he is unofficially engaged to another. When studying the scrolls with Osai, the mother of the house, Bannajo sneaks into the house and steals their obis and runs through the town proclaiming the two as adulterers. Written by PastaQueen

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15 January 1986 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Gonza - keihäsmies  »

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Referenced in Bento Monogatari (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting Period Piece, but...
23 October 1999 | by (austin) – See all my reviews

GONZA the SPEARMAN's true asset is the acting of Iwashita Shima, who has acted in many other films of director Shinoda (also her husband.) I actually sat down expecting to be blown away by the combination of cinematographer Miyagawa (Rashomon, Ugetsu), composer Takemitsu (Ran, Kwaidan) and Shinoda...but what a disappointment!

The picture is gorgeous to look at, and the sounds effectively disturbing when Iwashita bursts into her womanly rage and jealousy. Yet, GONZA does not hold well as a whole. The title character Gonza is a pretty boy-slash-expert-spearman, but his is a performance that is wooden at best. Much of his character is not demonstrated visually or by story, but rather we learn about his nature and personality through what others sing or speak of him.

Another bothersome aspect is the lack of relationship between people and space. You are likely to walk away from the picture feeling detached from the characters, because they just seem to float about on the streets, in this room and that, etc. I mean, static cutaway shots do not necessarily edit well together - to give a sense of Iwashita's opulence and isolation (although these were supposedly desired effects.)

This much said, GONZA is still quite an interesting adaptation of a puppet theatre play by Japan's "Shakespeare", Chikamatsu, an 18th century playwright. Shinoda wisely weaves together a parallel between the art of the tea ceremony and the stifling insitution and ideologies of marriage. The story is a tragic melodrama that ends in a bloody fare, which is really necessary to restore the sense of order both the play and film are suspect of criticism.

One especially haunting sequence of the film arrives just after the killing: that of a distraught woman by the sea, singing the song of her murdered lover - the spectre of whom gallops past her on a white horse (you may recall a similar sequence from Truffaut's Story of Adele H., where a maddened Adele hallucinates the lover who abandoned her.)


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