Two interwoven stories. The first is a biography of anarchist Sakae Osugi which follows his relationship with three women in the 1920s. The second centers around two 1960s' students researching Osugi's theories.
An engineer's wife returns home with a lost teenager. A man posing as her dad tries to get her back, causing the engineer to recall his youth as a revolutionary, obscured by dreamlike disruptions of time and space, fantasy and reality.
A spontaneous romance blooms between Kawamura, a professor touring Europe, and Naoko, a married woman living in Paris, scarred by the Nagasaki atomic bombings. The two protagonists travel around Europe trying to find themselves.
Wuthering Heights was made under French sponsors and entered the 1988 Cannes competition (same as Yoshida's earlier film, A Promise). This is an adaptation of Emily Brontë's classic novel of the same name and transports the setting from 19th century Yorkshire moors to a medieval Japanese foggy volcanic setting. Because of this, some people may draw parallels with two Shakespeare adaptations by Akira Kurosawa, Throne of Blood and Ran, also set in medieval Japan, but really Yoshida's work has nothing in common with Kurosawa's in terms of style, storytelling and general feel. Apparently he made it because he felt dissatisfied with the romanticism of the 1929 version.
The role of Heathcliff (here called Onimaru, meaning "demon") is played by Yusaku Matsuda, sadly in one of his last roles due to his premature death, while Cathy (Kinu, meaning "silk") is played by Yuko Tanaka. Both of them do a great job, although this style of acting may not be to everyone's taste because it's heavily influenced by the Noh theatre traditions. In fact, Yoshida had the actors perform Noh exercises each day under the guidance of a professional instructor. There are no ghosts in this adaptation, as they are replaced with Shinto references which are very likely to fly over your head as they did over mine. Some Shintoistic symbols and elements have major roles, like the long streak of white arches in the middle of nowhere or Kinu's mirror (possibly a reference to Amaterasu? These are just wild guesses...).
There are few different locations - the two Houses on the mountain, the nearby town and the deserted foggy outback, and that's it. One of the rare write-ups on this film that I've read connects the isolated setting to Japan itself, but you can really never know what Yoshida's films are about because there are almost no interviews and a few articles/reviews/texts in general on his work.
Shinichiro Ikebe's music fits the dark, sometimes morbid imagery well. Some of Yoshida's trademark visual touches are present, such as focusing on the characters behind various objects in close-up, such as hand fans. Some locations are color-coded, such as the Forbidden Chamber which is all in yellow to accompany the outbursts of passion that occur within its walls. As is the case with any other Yoshida film, this masterpiece is worth seeing even for the visuals alone.
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