A classic melodramatic love tragedy addressing social inequality in feudal Japan, depicted in Kenji Mizoguchi's typical style. The nostalgic scenes of 1920s Tokyo provides a valuable visual...
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A classic melodramatic love tragedy addressing social inequality in feudal Japan, depicted in Kenji Mizoguchi's typical style. The nostalgic scenes of 1920s Tokyo provides a valuable visual experience set against the background of the title song, "Tokyo March."Written by
Passingly interesting film, livened by benshi narration
Version I saw : Bluray (projected), subtitled, with benshi narrator
Photography/visual style: 5/10
Tokyo March is one of the few surviving films by director Kenji Mizoguchi. I saw it as a result of a demonstration at Manchester University of the interesting practice of 'benshi' narration. The narrator provides dialogue, imitating voices for all characters, and adds notes explaining the narrative to the audience. It arose during a time when literacy was poor in Japan, so the inter-titles were of little assistance.
The film itself is a broad melodrama covering themes of social stratification. It's not especially good, and suffers from the perennial problem of silent film overacting, but at only 3/4 of an hour, at least does not overstay its welcome.
If it has any great value, it is as a historical document. Tokyo March speaks to the social and cultural environment of Japan at the time, as well as revealing to the educated cineaste the state of film techniques and technology in the country. For example, I detected strong echoes of the work of D.W. Griffith, reflecting the fact that America was a good 10 years ahead of Europe in terms of film exports to Japan.
If you get a chance to see this, or any other film, with a benshi narrator, I think you will not regret trying it. Aside from that, there is not really a huge amount to see here.
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