In the past three years I’ve seen many people talk about how amazing Japan is on the international stage. They speak of their craftsmanship, their fusion of tradition and modernity, and their unique approach to capitalism. What I often saw missing from the praise was a nod to understanding how these things came to be. If you’ve been to Japan, you know it’s not just a matter of stepping into a popular book store and buying a book on how to become a master, or getting a degree in design and then forming your own brand of clothing. It’s a lot of work, and in some ways it’s a shame that it’s not as well known as the country’s other strengths.

On September 6, 1945, the end of the war came. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were so powerful that they came with an unprecedented shock wave that destroyed everything in its path. Some however remained untouched from the blast. One such person was Shima Sakamoto, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast. He lived on a farm by the name of Aso, where he was found by the Red Cross. After being transported to a hospital, Sakamoto was diagnosed to have radiation burns on his chest and head, but he somehow survived. After being discharged from the hospital, he met a woman named Sumako who was having trouble delivering her baby, so she asked him to help her. Sakamoto held Sumako’s hand

Kenji Mizoguchi is best known as the director of Ugetsu Monogatari and Sansho the Bailiff, two of Japan’s greatest films. He was also a founding member of the “Mizoguchi movement” in the early 1930s, a movement that emphasized the Japanese sensitivity to natural and humanistic values and the artistic nature of Japanese cinema. However, Mizoguchi was not as well-known in the West as he should have been. Before he died in 1957, Mizoguchi said that his greatest regret was that he remained unknown in the West, and that it was his duty to make his films known to the world.

Discussions of the greatest directors from the golden age of Japanese cinema are unfortunately limited to three great directors: Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa. While this sketch leaves out many of the key players who helped make this era what it was, there is one glaring omission that outweighs many others: Mikio Naruse. But to see him only through the prism of what he is not would be a great disservice to a man who has spent most of his life working behind the camera and who started at Shochiku when he was only fifteen.1Russell, Catherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, pp. 2 Naruse’s film production was almost unprecedented: In just 37 years, he made nearly 90 feature films, including seven in 1932 alone. Their number and consistent quality is a testament to his qualities as a director. Naruse’s contribution to the film deserves to be analyzed on its own merits, separate from the comparison with the work of his contemporaries. What Kurosawa can give us, however, is an excellent analysis of the man’s style:

Naruse’s method is to superimpose a very short shot over another shot, but when you see them together in the finished film, they give the impression of one long shot. The flow is so great that the subtleties go unnoticed. This stream of short images, which at first glance seems calm and ordinary, then turns out to be like a rushing river whose calm surface hides a raging torrent. The confidence in his hand was unparalleled. 2Kurosawa, Akira. Something like an autobiography. Seuil/Cahiers Du Cinema, 1985. p. 113.

This metaphor applies not only to Naruse’s recording and editing techniques, but also to his stories themselves. His films are generally vital, slow-burning images that explore systemic social issues and are shot with minimal camera movements. Pessimistic is one of the more succinct adjectives attributed to his tone and scenarios, but that feeling is not something Naruse creates easily. The countless tragedies that befall his protagonists are the result of the artificial limitations of everyday life, which he portrays with painful authenticity. As Naruse himself put it bluntly, the world we live in betrays us.3Jacobi, Alexander. A critical guide to Japanese filmmakers from the silent era to the present. Stone Bridge Press, 2008. pp. 209.

It may seem that not much has changed by the end of Naruse’s film, but that’s just the cursory reading I mentioned earlier. Her stories are about women who seek happiness and men who continually disappoint them. Ultimately, there is something deeper and often darker at work in the hearts of Naruse’s protagonists, many of whom are hopelessly stuck in the same situation in which they began their lives. Although they almost always star in his stories, Naruse’s heroines rarely escape our harsh and unforgiving world.4Jacoby, Alexander. A critical guide to Japanese filmmakers from the silent era to the present. Stone Bridge Press, 2008. pp. 208-209. These women were often embodied by some of Japan’s most iconic actresses, including Kinuyo Tanaka, Setsuko Hara, and especially Hideko Takamine, who appeared in 17 of Naruse’s films and embodied the new independent Japanese woman that the director sought to create in the postwar period.5 Masako, Kamimura, and Ishikawa Yumi The Japanese Film and Women: Works by Mizoguchi Kenji and Naruse Mikio. A Review of Japanese Culture and Society, vol. 8, 1996, p. 31. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/42801190.

Although Naruse avoided international fame during his lifetime, his works were shown abroad several times during his career.6Russell, Catherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, pp. 2 When a Woman Climbs the Stairs (1960) is perhaps the film that enjoys the most recognition and prestige – and for good reason. Her masterpiece, set at the turn of the century, explores the world of hostess clubs that have largely supplanted the geisha trade7Russell, Catherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke U.P., 2008, p. 334. from the point of view of mother-san Keiko Yashiro (Hideko Takamine), a widow caught between various oppressive forces. At thirty, she is getting older, losing her physical ability to attract new clients, and also losing the chance to marry a respectable man. As Keiko tries to raise the capital to buy her own bar in Ginza, she is harassed by various customers, colleagues and parasitic relatives, leaving the woman alone with no way out in a male-dominated society.

In When a Woman Climbs the Stairs, Naruse’s traditional art of staging is brought to perfection. Hideko Takamine’s acting and costumes are the highlight of her career, and she is supported by some of cinematographer Masao Tamai’s best compositions. The Black and Sharp Style of Cinema8Russell, Catherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke U.P., 2008, p. 338. and subtle yet powerful facets emphasize the grand motif of the title and demonstrate Naruse’s ability to develop a distinct visual language for each painting. Film critic Phillip Lopate brilliantly described the staircase to Keiko’s workplace as a vertical Sisyphean loop 9Lopate, Phillip. When a woman walks up the stairs: They’re hanging in there. Criterion Collection. Criterion, 19. February 2007. https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/471-when-a-woman-ascends-the-stairs-they-endure literally the inability of women to move forward, only able to elevate themselves to men for a moment to please them, only to return to their lower lives.

When a Woman Climbs the Stairs, one of Naruse’s most famous and widely distributed films, is a logical starting point for anyone interested in Naruse’s deep river waters. Her filmography is a treasure trove for those who wish to explore the depths of the female experience. But while many of his films can already be seen or purchased in one form or another, Naruse’s vast, nationwide filmography can be a daunting task for the uninitiated. Fortunately, such an extensive catalog provides the viewer with many different entry points that cover a wide range of topics, so there is always a Naruse film that fits the viewer’s parameters. For those with something specific in mind, here are six types of Mikio Naruse films and recommendations for each, all available on the Criterion Channel.

Silent Naruse – Apart From You (1933)

Why shouldn’t I drink? Look who my mother is.

Honorable mention: No Bloodline (1932)

Naruse began his career towards the end of the silent era with Mr. and Mrs. B. Sword Game (1930), although silent films were common in Japan throughout the decade. Despite his reputation for bitter realism, many of his early films were comedies.10Jacobi, Alexander. A critical guide to Japanese filmmakers from the silent era to the present. Stone Bridge Press, 2008. pp. 208. He made 24 silent films in four years, the earliest of which is Flunky, Work Hard! (1931). Much of his early filmography has been lost, but these remnants clearly show Naruse’s early ability to tell intriguing stories. Beyond You presents many ideas that he will continue throughout his filmography. The plot revolves around Kikue (Mitsuko Yoshikawa), a single mother who works as a geisha and raises her son Yoshio (Akio Isono), who is involved in a gang. Yoshio resents his mother’s profession, but he is also attracted to his young colleague Teriguki (Sumiko Mizukubo), who has been forced into the same profession by his family. Gradually, she helps him appreciate his mother’s sacrifices, while bringing him her own by trying to save his younger sister from a similar fate.

Apart From You is a typical Naruse film. It gives priority to the social difficulties experienced by working women at the hands of the men in their own families, rather than to heavy-handed twists. The film differs from later Naruse films in its execution, but not in its content, as it is silent and thus retains some of the techniques that would be nullified if sound were activated, such as dramatic chiseling for emphasis. The story is written, structured and staged in a manner similar to many of his best films, although the editing here uses frequent correspondence cuts, a technique that has been reduced but not eliminated in his later filmography in favor of more novel editing.11ussell, Catherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, p. 61.

Naruse shines with simple details. A motif repeated in Naruse’s films of the 1930s and 1940s, and also found in Besides You, is the tattered sock worn by Yoshio here.12Russell, Katherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, p. 62. First Kikue sees that his leg is exposed under the blanket while he sleeps, and puts it back under the blanket. When he gets up and is about to leave the house, he is wearing a black sock with a hole in it that reveals his foot – his true identity, despite his apparent anger at his mother and his fascination with crime. Throughout the film he takes off his shoes to put a sock on his toe, and at one point he even paints his exposed track with black paint, but no matter how hard he tries, the other characters remember the boy beneath him fondly. Little things like this are found throughout Naruse’s filmography.

While the film itself is not as authoritative as the films that follow it in this list, it is an excellent example of some of Naruse’s main themes. Oppressed geishas, frustrated men, and even forbidden relationships (given the Oedipal nature of Yoshio’s attraction to Teriguki) become frequent parts of his worlds. Besides You is 61 minutes long and is a good buy for fans of silent movies.

Naruse Wedding Stories – Meal (1951)

A lucky woman like you can’t complain.

Honorable mention: The Wife (1953)

Stories of housewives in an unhappy marriage – Naruse’s bread and butter. He is the author of the shomin-geki genre, which tells of the daily difficulties of the lower middle class. In most cases, Japan’s defeat in World War II is directly responsible for this struggle. For a long time, the grieving nation suffered from shortages of food, shelter, and equipment, exacerbating pre-existing problems and tensions within families.13Mellen, Joan. Later Ozu, later Naruse. Film Quarterly, vol. 61, no. 4, 2008, pp. 26-27. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/fq.2008.61.4.24. Repast is one of the biggest and most significant dramas.

The film is notable because it was Naruse’s first adaptation of the literary work of Fumiko Hayashi, whose realistic, semi-autobiographical style of writing and her own colorful, unconventional background set her apart from other women writers of the time.14Horton, William Bradley Tales of a Vagabond from the War: Hayashi Fumiko and the travels of Japanese writers in Southeast Asia at the beginning of the war. Under attack: Women and the Second World War, Evelina Buchheim, Publishers Verloren, 2014, pp. 38-39. His protagonists were always women suffering from the systemic difficulties of contemporary Japan, a perfect combination with Naruse’s established style.15Russell, Katherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, pp. 15-16. He adapted his work for six films, one of which was a biopic of his own life story, The Wanderer’s Notebook (1962). Hayashi’s prose would become the basis for much of Naruse’s filmography in the 1950s, helping him achieve a critical and commercial success he had not known in the 1940s.16 Masako, Kamimura and Ishikawa Yumi. Japanese film and women: Works by Mizoguchi Kenji and Naruse Mikio. A Review of Japanese Culture and Society, Vol. 8, 1996, p. 30. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/42801190. Unfortunately, his films from the war and occupation period have remained virtually inaccessible for further analysis.

Repast is also the first of four collaborations between Naruse and Setsuko Hara, who under his direction played one of the best roles of her career, that of Michiyo Okamoto, a housewife in a loveless marriage to her husband Hatsunosuke (Ken Uehara). Her life becomes monotonous when her philandering runaway cousin Hatsunosuke Satoko (Yukiko Shimazaki) arrives unexpectedly, forcing Michiyo to question her own happiness and the possibilities for her as a married housewife in modern Japan. Naruse’s dexterity in creating the worlds of his characters is on full display here. For example, he visualizes Hatsunosuke’s ineffective dependence on his wife. When Michiyo leaves for a family visit, the house soon falls into disrepair. At the same time, other women come and go, who can make subtle but important changes, such as. B. by turning his guest’s sandals so that they point outward when he goes out, which Hatsunosuke would never have noticed. The film embodies the feminine touch found in many Naruse films.

Repast also shows the director’s ability to create palpable tension. The central conflict of a young woman falling in love with her uncle and threatening to destroy his marriage certainly shows that he is working on more taboo ideas that could make for a surprisingly suspenseful melodrama. Many sequences of misunderstandings or unspoken acknowledgements always simmer, but never erupt into emotional outbursts. It is his style to create moments of quiet desperation and acceptance in a ruthless society. Michiyo’s realistic, three-dimensional life is shown as open and expansive, full of connections to friends and relatives all over Japan, but none of them can offer her a decent alternative to her current situation. The world has condemned her to an unhappy life where she will always wonder what could have been. As far as Seomin fans are concerned, few surpass Repast, and any fan of the genre should try it out.

Naruse’s Working Women – Late Chrysanthemums (1954)

It’s a profession to live a boring life.

Honorable mention: Current (1956)

If the protagonist Naruse is not playing a housewife, she must play a single working woman.17 Masako, Kamimura and Ishikawa Yumi. Japanese film and women: Works by Mizoguchi Kenji and Naruse Mikio. A Review of Japanese Culture and Society, vol. 8, 1996, p. 31. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/42801190. This work can take the form of a hostess, as in When a Woman Climbs the Stairs, but more often it is the work of a geisha. Late Chrysanthemums, an adaptation of three short stories by Fumiko Hayashi, offers an inglorious glimpse into the lives of four geishas after their heyday. Haruko Sugimura was given a rare opportunity to shine as the film’s leading lady, Kin, a wealthy former geisha who regularly lends money to three of her former geisha friends. Tomi (Yuko Mochizuki), Tamae (Chikako Hosokawa) and Nobu (Sadako Sawamura) struggle to make ends meet to pay off their debt to Kin, while she is visited by two men who are disappointed in her past. Tomi and Tamae also see how their adult children leave their lives by getting married and getting more lucrative jobs.

Naruse’s empathy for the plight of women is palpable in all his films. His camera filmed and characterized women as real people without objectifying them, which made his films very popular with female audiences.18Masako, Kamimura and Ishikawa Yumi. Japanese film and women: Works by Mizoguchi Kenji and Naruse Mikio. A Review of Japanese Culture and Society, Vol. 8, 1996, pp. 32. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/42801190. Late Chrysanthemums is an excellent example of her ability to show the unglamorous side of womanhood; the title aptly compares her heroines to a flower whose beauty inevitably fades.19Russell, Catherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, p. 269. Tomi in particular does not show good geisha manners: she drinks a lot, gambles often and blows her nose loudly. But for a geisha to lose her essential professional beauty through the inevitable passage of time is a particular cruelty. Their time, the season in which these flowers can bloom, has passed and society is unable to sustain them. Some, like Keane’s friends, ended their careers with virtually nothing but opportunities. Others, like Keane himself, managed to end their careers and join the oppressive establishment they had worked all their lives to free.

Late Chrysanthemums also served as a vehicle for Naruse’s ideas about the Westernization of post-occupation Japan, which he would later address in his film Floating Clouds (1955). While they are not the focal point of the story, there are some curious moments, such as a woman in more modern attire walking past old geishas and demonstrating Marilyn Monroe’s famous walk. Tomi scoffs at the way the woman walks, but the same clothing style comes across to his own daughter Sachiko (Ineko Arima), who is growing up and rising in the new Japanese democracy, ready to leave her own mother behind.20Russell, Katherine Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, p. 275. What hasn’t changed in Naruse’s evolving world is the failure of men. Visits from Keane’s two lovers with difficult pasts are initially received differently, but are ultimately equally frustrating. Little by little, pieces of her own story fall into place and we discover a tough woman, with a big soul, shaped by these men and the patriarchal society they dominate.

The geisha remains one of Japan’s most iconic symbols, and the experience of women hiding under makeup has been and continues to be a staple of Japanese cinema. Naruse’s filmography includes several of his stories, starting with the aforementioned Besides You. The film has a lot to offer at any point in the life of a geisha, but dissecting the lives of these women in The Late Chrysanthemums when they cease to be what they are is a great geisha film to start with.

The art of cutting matches from Mikio Naruse’s Floating Clouds.

Postwar Naruse – Floating clouds (1955)

I’m just a memory, and memories fade fast. And then it’s forgotten.

Honorable mention: Mother (1952)

The Japanese film industry has long been dependent on the will of censors, whether exercised by the wartime imperial government or by the American occupation forces. Film scripts and stories have been distorted to suit the wishes of those in power: The former demanded propaganda or films supporting traditional values, while the latter mainly blocked the production of films from the Yidaigeki period and demanded more progressive and democratic ideals. The much-vaunted golden age of Japanese film began in 1952, following the withdrawal of occupying forces. The industry now has greater freedom of expression and allows artists to finally address more controversial and uncomfortable public issues21. Introduction. A Critical Handbook of Japanese Film Directors From the Silent Era to the Present Day, Stone Bridge Press, 2008, pp. xv-xvi.

Like many other writers of his time, he used his newfound creative freedom to take a hard look at the sinister elements of postwar society and their systemic effects on the citizens of a defeated and demoralized country. This was achieved through the problematic production of Floating Clouds, Naruse’s most ambitious film and his best-known work in Japan.22Russell, Katherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, p. 277. Based on the novel of the same name by Fumiko Hayashi, this melodrama tells the story of Yukiko Koda (Hideko Takamine) who tries to repair her relationship with Kengo Tomioka (Masayuki Mori), a man she met and had a romantic relationship with during her military service in Indochina. She discovers that the man has still not left his wife for her, as he once promised, but an intense romance between them begins again. Kengo’s feminine nature leads him to date many other partners, resulting in constant heartbreak for Yukiko, who is desperately attracted to him.

Floating Clouds is unique in Naruse’s work, especially in the way he plays with time through editing. The film consists of a sequence of encounters between Yukiko and Kengo, with little or no time in between. The fluid structure of the plot allows for a longer time span than in his more limited dramas, such as. B. Late chrysanthemums deliberately built around the rigid four-day ticking of the clock. Naruse even uses flashbacks at times, especially in the iconic episode where the doomed lovers’ kiss from their radiant past is paired with the dark and gloomy present. The use of this technique here is not unique, but the typical storylines do not often allow for such an experiment in time.23Russell, Katherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, p. 278.

Pessimism overwhelms the floating clouds. Each scene of increasing heartbreak regularly leads to more pain and frustration for this pathetic man at the expense of the depressed woman. Yukiko lacks the rare and miserly joy of female camaraderie that characterizes many of Naruse’s other heroines, such as Michiyo’s friends and family in Repasta or the duo of Tomi and Tamae in The Late Chrysanthemums. Yukiko is painfully alone, shuttling between different men, her former attackers, and even becomes the mistress of an American soldier – a terrifying and contradictory reality for some women during the occupation, which was never allowed to be shown during Allied censorship. This detail also allows for the deepening of the Westernization of Japan: Christmas music is played on modern radios and the shop windows display many American brands and logos.

This, combined with archival footage of the grim return of Japanese citizens from Indochina to the mainland, allowed Naruse to preserve an important part of his country’s history that was in danger of disappearing from the public consciousness. The basis of Yukiko and Kengo’s romance is rooted in an idealized military past, and Floating Clouds thus succeeds in projecting the devastated feelings of an entire nation onto the audience.24Russell, Katherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, p. 277. This makes the film an important distillation of a critical part of Japanese history and a must-see for Naruse fans and fans of Japanese cinema in general.

Tabu Naruse – Tosca (1964)

Nurse. I wanted to stay here because you’re here. I don’t want you to think I’m a coward. I’m in love with you.

Honorable mention: The Sound of the Mountain (1954)

Naruse’s penchant for restraint necessarily avoids violence or vulgarity, but his films can tackle very uncomfortable subjects head-on. Far from the extremes of Japanese new wave directors like Nagisa Ōshima or representatives of the pinku-ega subgenre, Naruse’s taboo films touch on the uncomfortable realities of civilized life and women’s place in it. He brought oedipal overtones to the novel Apart From You, made the husband’s niece his wife’s chief romantic rival in Repast, and showed the hard truth about many American women and soldiers in Floating Clouds. Yearning, his latest collaboration with Hideko Takamine, deals with the issue of incest in a very complex way.

To be fair, the incest in Tosca is more of a name than it actually is, but that doesn’t make it any less striking. The story is about Reiko Morita (Hideko Takamine), a widow who lost her husband of just six months during World War II. Despite this loss, she remained with her husband’s family for eighteen years, remodeling and running the store after it was destroyed by an air raid. But as the corporate culture spreads in Japan, convenience stores are being squeezed out of the market by the big supermarkets, who are all undercutting their prices. The younger brother of Reiko’s husband, Koji Morita (Yuzo Kayama), wants to turn the store into his own supermarket, but this leads to Reiko being expelled from the family. Koji not only wants this to happen because Reiko is like a sister to him, he’s also in love with her.

Like other taboo films, Tosca is a film about confrontation. His parallel stories challenge the viewer about the true cost of cheap products and, more importantly, how a relationship between two unrelated people can always seem inadequate. Because the war robbed the Morita family of adult men, Koji grew up surrounded by women – his mother, his two sisters and his daughter-in-law. Reiko is over ten years older than him and is much more traditional than her siblings. Koji mentions his sister almost exclusively, even in scenes where he confesses his love for her, creating an unsettling but subtle tension that Reiko is all too slow to recognize. He grew up with this woman as a member of his family, almost on equal footing with his biological sisters, and yet he longs for her.

Although Reiko is shocked by this revelation, Hideko Takamine conveys the nostalgia (and confusion, which is a more accurate translation of the Japanese title Midereru) of the title, 25Russell, Katherine, with her excellent acting. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke U.P., 2008, p. 368. with extreme nuance. Naruse enjoys his final performance, concentrating on the stolen glances, the brief moments of contact, and Takamine’s glassy eyes that could burst into tears at any moment. Reiko’s decision to stay with her husband’s family was made voluntarily, but she admits to still feeling feminine desires. When she discovers that the man she thought was her brother loves her, she realizes that she might feel the same way.

Naruse has created a truly impossible love story that corners his heroine on all sides. We, the public, want these two people to be happy, but it’s hard to fully support the means to do so. Like Keiko in the movie When the woman walks up the stairs, Reiko sees all the doors slamming shut around her, and there seems to be no ethical way out that we can advise her. She is caught between a man who offers her an unattainable romance and a patriarchal society that forces her female company to sell itself. Naruse masterfully manages to balance these two conflicts. The film’s poignant final act is rather unconventional compared to his other works and tends to lean a bit towards melodrama as the film progresses, but Anniversary is certainly one of Naruse’s greatest and most intriguing films.

Naruse in color – scattered clouds (1967)

Why do our paths cross? I’m trying to forget what happened.

Honorable mention: Geisha in Love (1960)

Nearly thirty years after his silent film debut, Naruse deviated from his established style twice to shoot Summer Clouds (1958) in color and widescreen. Catherine Russell, a researcher at Naruse, explained: The widescreen forced him to adapt his editing and framing strategies. Although the pace is much slower, the elements of representation have become more complex.26Russell, Catherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, p. 17. Although twelve of his next thirteen films were also shot in widescreen, only five were made in color. Hideko Takamine confirmed that Naruse himself did not like shooting in color, quoting his words: The colour of the surroundings is so pervasive that we lose sight of the essential – the drama. She even claims that he wanted to make another black-and-white film with her alone in the background of the white sheet, a drama devoid of any possible distraction.27Takamine, Hideko About Mikio Naruse. When a Woman Climbs the Stairs DVD booklet from the Criterion Collection, 20. February 2007, 31. Regardless of his personal feelings on the subject, Naruse’s last film, Scattered Clouds, also known as Two in the Shadows, is the culmination of his limited series of color films and contains some of his best cinematic work.

The plot revolves around Yumiko (Yoko Tsukasa), a happily married woman preparing to move to the United States with her husband, and Shiro (Yuzo Kayama), a foreigner who accidentally kills her husband in a car crash. Although he has been found not guilty of negligence or recklessness, Shiro still feels obligated to care for Yumiko, who does not want to commit to the man who made her a widow. Fate keeps bringing them back together as they face changes in their lives after a shared catastrophe. Little by little, feelings develop between them.

In many ways, Scattered Clouds is a penetrating manifesto of Naruse’s career, style and outlook on life, replete with many familiar elements in a new interpretation.28Russell, Catherine. Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, p. 389. Like the eponymous Floating Clouds, this film covers more time and place than many of the others, though it is much further removed from the immediate postwar depression that defined many of these works. Here Naruse shows us a more modern, globalized world, full of complexity and missed connections. Yumiko has a college degree in English and is preparing to leave the country to continue her almost happy marriage to her husband. Shiro is a more westernized Japanese who serves real foreign customers and evokes much more sympathy than many of the previous male characters. Their unhappy relationship is no different than Anniversary, because in theory it could have worked without the factors that led to their meeting. The notion of a widow in love with a man who accidentally kills her husband is one of the many taboo attributes of Naruse’s latest film, which also deals with abortion (as in one of his personal favorites, The Sound of Mountain).29Russell, Katherine Kino Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese modernity. Duke W.P., 2008, p. 261.

While it’s impossible to see what Naruse made when he first stepped behind the camera, we’re lucky enough to see what he did last time. Anyone who loved his films should see this exciting end to a career that spanned nearly four decades. Moreover, fans of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai, especially of his masterpiece In the Mood for Love (2000), will find Scattered Clouds a fascinating film. In many ways, Wong’s film builds on the foundation laid by Naruse. Both films revolve around a seemingly impossible relationship in the 1960s and heighten the outward tension of the focus by constantly portraying their characters. There are even moments when Naruse’s lush compositions are immediately reminiscent of In The Mood For Love, the most striking example being a shot of the two protagonists in the back of a taxi. Both films are also edited in a similar way, with many brief encounters (often in restaurants) over a long period of time and the omission of some key plot points. Although they come from two different places and times, Scattered Clouds and In The Mood For Love complement each other very well.

Mikio Naruse died two years later, in 1969, leaving behind a truly impressive body of work and a remarkably coherent vision. Even with so many films, he has always found a way to make similar statements through different storylines and create an experience that is similar in its approach but new in its content. The existence of artists like Naruse reminds us that the annals of film history are full of talent waiting to be rediscovered by modern audiences. He had and still has so much to offer anyone brave enough to dip their toe into his seemingly gentle stream of honesty, heartbreak and humanity.Japan is a small country on the same scale as the UK, Singapore, or Canada. It is one of the world’s most culturally diverse nations, and it is home to some of the world’s most interesting people. As a result, it has a wealth of films, TV series, cultural icons, and other works of art that aren’t commonly namechecked in discussions of the world’s greatest filmmakers or TV shows. In this guide, we will highlight some of the most underrated Japanese films, TV shows and cultural icons that have slipped through the cracks of the world’s attention.. Read more about houston japan festival 2021 and let us know what you think.

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