An Actor’s Revenge 雪之丞変化 Dir: Kon Ichikawa (1963)

An Actor’s Revenge  An Actor's Revenge 1963 Poster

雪之丞変化 「Yukinojo Henge」

Release Date: January 13rg, 1963

Duration: 114 mins.

Director: Kon Ichikawa

Writer: Otokichi Mikami (Newspaper Serial), Daisuke Ito, Teinosuke Kinugassa (Adaptation), Natto Wada (Screenplay),

Starring: Kazuo Hasegawa, Fujiko Yamamoto, Ayako Wakao, Eiji Funakoshi, Saburo Date, Kikue Mori,

IMDB

Kon Ichikawa’s 1963 version of An Actor’s Revenge is a remake of the 1935 film starring Kazuo Hasegawa who came back to reprise a role that helped make him a star. Hasegawa, already a major kabuki and movie actor, must have thought this story special as this is his 300th film appearance. Far from being a staid jidaigeki adaptation, Ichikawa fuses period verisimilitude with colourful art direction and abstract framing to create a vision where the borders between the theatrical and real no longer exist.

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The Temple of Wild Geese 雁の寺 Dir: Yuzo Kawashima (1962)

The Temple of Wild Geese    Temple of Wild Geese Film Poster Gan no Tera

雁の寺  Gan no Tera

Duration: 96 mins.

Release Date: December 26th, 1962

Director:  Yuzo Kawashima

Writer:  Kazuo Funabashi, Yuzo Kawashima (Screenplay), Tsutomu Minakami (Original Novel)

Starring: Ayako Wakao, Masao Mishima, Kuniichi Takami, Isao Kimura, Ganjiro Nakamura, Kunikazu Takami, Ryoko Kamo, Mineko Mandai, Kiwami Sazanka,

IMDB

One of the chief ironies of life is that those who profess to be the most morally upstanding often end up being the most immoral. With this in mind, director Yuzo Kawashima, chief satirist of post-war Japan, finds great material to work with when it comes to those in the religious orders. However, instead of laughs it is all menace as dark passions surge out of control. His film’s dark material finds its match with its aesthetic, a charcoal-like texture and look and foreboding music which make this a chilling film as we venture into the moral hypocrisy of the inhabitants in a Buddhist temple, all of which affects one boy’s warped mentality.

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The Graceful Brute しとやかな獣 Dir: Yuzo Kawashima (1962)

The Graceful Brute   The Graceful Brute Film Poster

しとやかな獣  Shitoyakana kedamono

Release Date: December 26th, 1962

Duration: 96 mins.

Director:  Yuzo Kawashima

Writer:  Kaneto Shindo (Screenplay),

Starring: Ayako Wakao, Yunosuke Ito, Hisano Yamaoka, Manamitsu Kawabata, Yuko Hamada, Eiji Funakoshi, Kyu Sazanka, Chocho Miyako, Hideo Takamatsu,

IMDB

A possible tag line for this film could be, “a family that embezzles together, stays together”, such is the content of this film which shows a day in the life of a greedy family as they swindle from subjects in their social circle. Ten actors, one location, and a narrative that takes place over 24 hours, Graceful Brute (1962) is a masterful black comedy that critiques the changing morals of Japanese people during the economic miracle of the post-war years.

The film almost exclusively takes place in the fifth floor apartment of the Maeda’s. They live in a danchi (housing complex) designed by Kunio Maekawa¹, the sort of forward-thinking utilitarian building that was meant to serve every need of its residents and promote community and harmony but the values of the Maeda’s are far from these ideals. They seem to be a stable family unit of two conservative parents (who wear kimono and listen to traditional music) and their hip son and daughter (out on the town in Ginza’s bars) but as the narrative unfolds we see the depth of their duplicity, selfishness, and materialistic behaviour which unites them. They are a product of the age.

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