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Koibumi (1953)

This valiant melodrama is the brilliant debut as a moviemaker of the great Japanese actress Kinuyo Tanaka, who also has a small role in the story. Based on a screenplay by Keinosuke ... See full summary »

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Reikichi Mayumi
... Michiko Kubota
Jûkichi Uno ... Naoto Yamaji
Jûzô Dôsan ... Hiroshi
Chieko Seki ... Office lady
Shizue Natsukawa ... Reikichi's mother
Kyôko Anzai
Yumi Takano
Kikuko Hanaoka
Harumi Kajima
Ichiro Kodama
Ryuzo Oka
Toshikazu Hara
Sayoko Ôno
Chiyoko Kuni
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Storyline

This valiant melodrama is the brilliant debut as a moviemaker of the great Japanese actress Kinuyo Tanaka, who also has a small role in the story. Based on a screenplay by Keinosuke Kinoshita, "Koibumi" explore the wounds of war, the limits of love and the need to forgive. A sad and troubled man, Reikichi Mayumi (Masayuki Mori), finds a new job five years after the end of WWII. He will write love letters for other people, which was not uncommon in post-war times (remember the starving poet Lope Veiga -Fernando Rey- in Spanish masterpiece "Cielo negro"). His ideas about love and his personal principles will be tested when he reconnects with his former girlfriend, Michiko (Yoshigo Kuga), a woman with a dark past marked by war and the further occupation of her country by the US military forces. Written by Anonymous

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based on novel | See All (1) »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Release Date:

13 December 1953 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Lettre d'amour  »

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1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Tanaka's directoral debut takes on all the norms of Japanese Cinema
12 March 2017 | by See all my reviews

You rarely expect an actor, no matter how great, to simply ease into the director's chair, especially not in her debut. The thing that struck me the most is how daring she is in regard to composition and style. This does not feel Japanese! In fact it moves almost like an early piece from the French New Wave.

The strict composition of formality and form is nowhere to be seen. Instead of calculated and rigid Tanaka places the camera slightly to the side or slightly higher than Mizoguchi, Kinoshita (who wrote the scrips), Ozu, Naruse, Ichikawa and any of the other masters of cinema in 1950s Japan. The camera moves, a lot, especially on the streets, giving you the feeling of true cinema verité - thought is also clear that this is not an experiment, nor consistently forced, only used when it's natural for the story.

Breaking with the traditions of Japanese cinema does however fit perfectly with the movie itself, where it's characters also break away from the traditions, morals and standards of old. We follow Masayuki Mori, a broken returned soldier barely scraping by while supported by his younger brother. He has a longing. Upon meeting an old friend he gets into a business he had not thought likely - writing "love letters" to American GIs from their mistresses, often several GIs per woman (many of whom are also prostitutes).

One day the woman he has been longing for and searching for comes in for the exact same purpose. Though described as a melodrama, and yes the label may to an extent fit, Tanaka takes the harsh issues straight on and elevates it with her almost unbelievable prowess. What a natural!


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