Original title: Ukigumo
- 2h 3m
A tragic social drama set in post war Japan and concerns a lonely woman trying to find purpose and stability in a devastated Tokyo.A tragic social drama set in post war Japan and concerns a lonely woman trying to find purpose and stability in a devastated Tokyo.A tragic social drama set in post war Japan and concerns a lonely woman trying to find purpose and stability in a devastated Tokyo.
The third of the triumvirate
Ot the three senior directors who dominated the golden age of Japanese cinema, Mikio Naruse is the least known in the West. This could be partly due to the fact that unlike his contemporaries, Mizoguchi and Ozu, his cinematic language was more conventional and less innovative. And yet, if one looks long and hard, it becomes possible to identify stylistic trademarks that could be uniquely his, characters that are forever walking and interiors that are often shot from the centre of a room looking towards a corner. The very title is a metaphor for characters that are drifting their lives away with very little sense of purpose. The tragic couple, Yukiko and Kengo, who met in French Indo-China during the second world war when they were engaged on a forestry project find themselves drifting when they meet up again in a post-war Japan soured with defeat and despair. Generally when we see them they are walking, often through urban landscapes of a Tokyo desolate and scarred by the immediate past. They are always on the move in the manner almost of characters in a road movie to wherever they can travel, be it to a sad holiday resort out of season or a remote island drenched by rain that hardly ever stops. But their relationship is doomed partly because whatever passion they may feel for one another is always curiously out of sync with each other's. Their personalities are also deeply flawed to the extent that neither is able to cope with the social disadvantages of being part of a defeated nation. It has been said that defeat left many professional Japanese men feeling emotionally emasculated. This is certainly true of Kengo. As for Yukika, she has none of the stoicism of Mizoguchi's long suffering female protagonists. Dissatisfaction with her lot has left her whingeing with self pity. ""Floating Clouds" is a deeply pessimistic film in a way that Kurosawa's "The Silent Duel", which deals with a pair of lovers living through the similar period of the immediate aftermath of war, is not. Ultimately Kurosawa's characters come to terms with misfortune in a way that presages a future of some hope. Both films no doubt reflect their directors' widely different temperaments.
- Apr 25, 2013
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