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 Movies: Post-War Japan

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Posts : 12924
Join date : 2013-01-16
Age : 64
Location : Seattle

PostSubject: Movies: Post-War Japan   Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:25 pm

Last weekend I ran across a pair of used Criterion-edition movies that somebody had turned into Half Price Books. I couldn't pass them up.


  • Ugetsu (1953) by Kenji Mizoguchi.  Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and poetic movies ever made.  It tells the story of a 16th Century potter who is afraid to leave his kiln as civil war closes in on his small village.  He and his neighbor endure adventures and perils, some of which later turn out to be imaginary (or at least commerce with dead people).  The solemn blending of reality with fantasy recalled Miyazaki's animated epics for me, and were certainly well done for 1953.  However the black and white cinematography and rather primitive camera work prevented me from joining in the accolades heaped upon it.

  • Ikiru (1952) by the acclaimed Akira Kurosawa.  In a completely different vein is this darkly comic contemporary drama about a civil servant diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, who decides to use the 6 months remaining to him to do something more meaningful than the 30 years he's spent pushing paper.  He undertakes getting approvals for a playground on the site of a septic waste site, battling against the nearly-immovable Japanese post-war bureaucracy.  The story is told in a series of flashbacks and interconnected vignettes, and examines human frailty and bureaucratic insanity.  The film was very well-done, sandwiched between two of Kurosawa's biggest hits, Rashomon and The Seven Samurai.  Again I enjoyed it... but I wouldn't rank it among the top 100 films I've ever seen.


Like the Renoir movie I watched last week, this exposure to cinemaphiles' favorite movies hasn't exactly inflamed me with a desire to see everything these directors have done.  Call me jaded, call me pedestrian.
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