Kochi Uehara is a fourth grade student living in the suburb of Tokyo. One day he picks up a large stone which turns out to be a fossil of a baby "Kappa" (a mythical Japanese water creature)... See full summary »
A mellow drama following the moral decline of a housewife turned bank employee who embezzles a fortune from her customers and indulges in an affair with a younger man. Set in 1994, shortly after the burst of Japan's economic bubble.
Journalist Shuichi Fujii receives a letter from convicted killer Junji Sudo. Writing from death row, Sudo wants to confess to crimes unknown to the police. On visiting Sudo in prison, Fujii... See full summary »
After the collapse of their relationship, Kiwako abducts the 6-month old child of a man she was having an affair with. Raising the child as her own, it is four years before the authorities catch up with her and the young child.
Kitamichi is a 19-year-old labor worker. He develops feelings for Yasuko who works in a used used bookstore, but he has never had a girlfriend. He also befriends Kusakabe, but jealousy soon threatens their friendship.
Atsushi is a civic construction worker who was widowed following a random murder. Toko's husband is neither interested in her nor in how his mother treats his wife. Shinomiya is a lawyer ... See full summary »
Majime, an eccentric man in publishing company, who has unique ability of words, joins the team that will compile a new dictionary, 'The Great Passage.' In the eclectic team, he becomes ... See full summary »
Kinoshita has directed his first film for Shochiku, so all should be well. But in 1944, the Armed Forces and the War Cabinet are worried. The war is clearly being lost, and censorship is getting tighter. Despite his film, called simply The Army, being strongly patriotic and stirring, the Army censors criticized the closing sequence for showing a woman crying freely while her son proudly marches off to war. Kinoshita is told that he will not be allowed to make another film because of this pressure. His boss wants him to stay on, and wait out the ban, but Kinoshita leaves anyway, proud and hurt.
He returns to his village at the worst possible time. The American bombing raids are closing in on even his rather remote village. The family must evacuate. Problem is, their mother is too ill to travel by bus on the bumpy roads. Kinoshita and his brother resolve to carry their mother in a litter over the mountains on foot. Assisted by a young porter, they set out for the hard journey.
Most of the movie is the hardships of the journey and the long conversations between the young men. Kinoshita is compelled to consider and defend his decisions, and challenged to return to movie-making.
Apart from a number of crises (such as pouring rain and bombing from the air), the pace is fairly gentle though always involving and never dull. The lead actors do a creditable job, but Yuko Tanaka as the literally long-suffering mother is simply stunning. And she is all the more impressive for saying not a word until her final scene, when she struggles to convince Kinoshita to go back to his dream.
The mountain scenery is also lovely to look at, and the camera-work is gorgeous. I did find some of the dialogue and characterization rather too neat and lacking in credibility. For instance, the porter chats with Kinoshita about seeing his film, the Army, unaware that he is addressing the director himself (Kinoshita does not tell the boy, as much out of shame as anything else). The porter gives him a rapturous review, reinforcing his vision of how he thought local audiences would react. This looks very much like dramatic license and seems unlikely to have happened so neatly and succinctly.
Considering the stature of Kinoshita, who started at the same time as Kurosawa and his contemporary in every respect, this story may appear to have been an oddly trivial episode to make into full-length feature. After all, his great body of work all came after this time. However, Dawn Of A Filmmaker is a lovely and affectionate film, and tries earnestly to shine a light on the views, life experience and tribulations of this great artist.
DOAF ends with a clips from most of his movies, and makes me all the keener to seek out his harder-to-find efforts.
Highly recommended for anyone who loves Japanese film, whether you are yet to see a Kinoshita masterpiece or, like me, are a firm and committed fan.
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