Based on a well-known Kabuki drama titled "Kochiyama to Naozamurai", which Yamanaka distills into a masterpiece of jidaigeki (period film) as shomingeki (everyman drama), blending the two into something he apparently had rights to entirely in Japan during the 30s. Through a series of intrigues, Kochiyama, Naojiro (who becomes Hirotaro for the film), Ichinijo, and Hirotaro's sister Onami (played by a young Hara Setsuko) all pretty much have the worst day or two of their lives. This thoroughly pessimistic film isn't much of a surprise considering 1937's Humanity and Paper Balloons (a paper balloon, by the way, being played with by a child provides one of the most memorable scenes in this film, or any film, about half way through) but Million Ryo Pot (1935) seems impossibly optimistic in comparison, you'd almost think they were made by different directors (except for the perfection of course.) McDonald (who I've been reading a lot of lately, not on purpose, it just seems my interests are lining up with hers) surmises that the last two films are a response to the rise of fascism (especially the ni-ni rokyu incident) in Japan, and I can't imagine a better reason.
If you have a chance to see this film, or any of Yamanaka's work, do so. They're enjoyable and stick in the back of your head forever. Unfortunately only three of his films survive, but I would rate them as some of my favorites. Ten stars and very highly recommended to everyone.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?