Kurosawa’s fifth film, a 20th century contemporary
story starring Ozu’s go-to actress Setuko Hara (Late Spring, Early Summer,Tokyo Story)- I wasn’t aware she had
worked with Kurosawa and this predates the Ozu collaborations
A film about social injustice, wartime politics – combating anti-intellectualism
A great sequence at 36 minutes- Hara hears the news her love
interest is leaving and there’s a series of dissolves
At 47-49 minutes there are three separate shots of her contemplating
going into a building- she’s tracking back and forth, without speaking, through
glass- really well done
At 79 minutes a shot of Hara with
her ex-husbands parents on the ground arranged in the frame by Kurosawa-
sublime shot—lantern in the foreground
It is preachy, lots of speeches by
their characters shouting their motives and the movies themes—she literally
says “I’m the shining light of the rural cultural movement” and “I’m going to
try to make a difference in women’s lives because they are so hard” to which
someone says “you were meant to suffer”—
It’s in the archives- a recommend
though—it seems a little crazy that Kurosawa is only four years from making Rashoman– It doesn’t seem like he’s
Interesting. I had heard good things about this one, but haven’t doubled back yet. In terms of the filmmaker who would go on to direct Rashomon, I haven’t seen One Wonderful Sunday (1947) or The Quiet Duel (1949) yet, but there is tons to admire in Drunken Angel (1948), and Stray Dog (1949) is just fantastic.
I don’t think you can predict a filmmakers success based on his previous movies. I mean I guess you kinda can but not completely. Who could have predicted Spike Lee making Do the Right Thing? Stanley Kubrick making the Killing and Paths of Glory after his 1st 2 movies.
Who would have expected James Cameroon to make Titanic, aliens, terminator movies after piranha part 2?
My point is all directors have some potential to make capital M masterpieces and also to make awful movies. All directors improve slowly after making their first few movies.
@Azman- I disagree almost completely with this.
@Matt Harris— Yeah most of the reviews on RT are positive for this one. It is a good movie- I wouldn’t put it in the archives just because Kurosawa’s name is on it- just I think a lot of it though it is his most “mature thematically/socially”– meh– I would agree with the critic who says it is Kurosawa’s Stanley Kramer film or something (which to me is not a compliment). I think there’s a lot more creativity in his debut actually and there are many many many films in 1946 that are stronger
I think nowadays we look at young directors and like to project forward with some degree of confidence. I think we look at a Damien Chazelle or an Ari Aster and think we have a pretty good idea that they’ve got greatness in their futures… or even someone like Ryan Coogler. He doesn’t have a masterpiece yet, but I don’t think it would be some sort of great shock if he directs one in the future.
I think I’d strongly disagree with your last couple of sentences though. It’s a very slim minority of directors who make a period defining masterpiece, and there’s a long list of highly talented filmmakers who have never done so. And not everyone improves. Did Welles top Citizen Kane? Many would argue Tarantino never topped his Sophomore effort (I argue differently).
As for Kurosawa, I think he’s a bit of a special case. He began his career under far from optimal conditions. He was a filmmaker heavily influenced by both Japanse and American film traditions, but for the first few years he had to suppress the latter and make Japanese propoganda pictures, and over the next few under the American occupation he had to suppress the former due to the restrictions the Americans put on the Japanese film industry. I’m still eager to dive into those intial works, but it strikes me as natural that he would come into his own toward the end of the 1940s when he started to have the freedom he craved as a director.
This is a very good point, I can’t imagine debuting with the best movie ever and never breaking that ceiling again, but certainly after his debut it was seen to be promising
@Matt Harris and @Aldo– So my comment here about Rashomon was just an observation- not a critique of Kurosawa– more a compliment to Rashomon than anything. Rashomon is one of the single greatest films of all-time and we’re only a few years away here in 1946. Seventh Seal is Bergman’s 17th film… Fellini made 6 films before La Dolce Vita. Especially in the early to mid 20th century many of these directors were hired hands initially, apprenticeships, forced to make films, and made a ton of them. Practicing and defining their style on the fly. Welles is in the minority for sure in this era of filmmaking. Powell made a ton of films before he “arrived”– ditto for Ozu who I just did this for in 2018 when I went through his films… we can’t find them all but I think Passion is Dreyer’s 9th film.
Maybe all of that changed a little in the 1960’s with Godard and Truffaut with The 400 Blows and Breathless (amazingly both are debuts). But for every Coen Brothers (Blood Simple- a big wow) and Tarantino — there’s Coppola and Scorsese (who made “meh” films at American International Pictures prior to The Godfather and Mean Streets).
I agree with you
Hell, Hitchcock peaked 30+ years into his career.
@Matt Harris– yes, great point– actually both Hitchcock and Ozu remade their own films from 1934 (Man who Knew Too Much and Story of Floating Weeds) in the late 1950’s (1956 for Hitchcock and 1959 for Ozu) and the remakes were substantially better films