Nippon Modern: Japanese Cinema of the 1920s and 1930s by Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano

In Nippon Modern: Japanese Cinema of the 1920s and 1930s, Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano presents an insightful, multi-faceted analysis of Japan’s interwar cinema within the context of Tokyo’s rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 (even as the process of industrialization had already been underway), in particular, the output of Shochiku Kamata […]

Children in the Wind, 1937

In a pivotal encounter during Children of the Wind, the Aoyamas’ rambunctious younger son, Sanpei (Jun Yokoyama, credited in the film as Bakudan kozo, or “explosive boy”), having been sent to live temporarily with his uncle (Takeshi Sakamoto) and aunt (Fumiko Okamura), befriends an orphaned circus performer played by frequent prewar Ozu child actor Aoki […]

Ornamental Hairpin, 1941

One of my favorite sequences in any film is the remarkably fluid lateral dolly shot through the financially ruined Furusawa household that opens Kenji Mizoguchi’s Sisters of the Gion, so it is particularly satisfying to see Hiroshi Shimizu further refining this technique in the seemingly effortless, long take, outdoor tracking shot of a pair of […]

A Star Athlete, 1937

Hiroshi Shimizu’s government-pressured, militarism-era film A Star Athlete is a breezy, refreshingly lighthearted, and subtly subversive slice-of-life comedy that centers on an all-day student march in formation and armed combat drills through the rural countryside for military training exercises. Shimizu demonstrates his deceptively facile adeptness and virtuoso camerawork through a series of extraordinarily choreographed plan […]

Japanese Girls at the Harbor, 1933

My first impressions of Hiroshi Shimizu’s films during the Shochiku At 100 New York Film Festival sidebar were the agility of his camera movements that favorably compared to Kenji Mizoguchi’s tensile dolly shots, and a lightness of touch in the development of the narrative that, like Yasujiro Ozu’s cinema, converges towards gravitas without being abrupt […]