Mikio Naruse

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… read more »

Japanese Film Directors by Audie Bock

Audie Bock presents a collection of perceptive, knowledgeable, and comprehensive critical essays on the most influential and distinctive filmmakers of Japan in Japanese Film Directors. Bock chronologically explores the personal influences and cinematic contributions of several acclaimed film directors, and in the process, provides an intelligent observation on the profound effects of changing political, social,… read more »

Flowing, 1956

Adapted from the novel by postwar author Aya Koda (the daughter of Meiji-era novelist Koda Rohan) and filmed in the same year as the banning of prostitution in Japan, Mikio Naruse’s Flowing is something of a corollary to Kenji Mizoguchi’s Street of Shame, a complex and richly textured panorama capturing a transforming way of life… read more »

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, 1960

Every afternoon, a young widow named Keiko (Hideko Takamine) walks from her modest apartment to her job as a senior hostess in a Ginza bar. Compassionate and courteous, she is affectionately called “mama” by the younger hostesses who see her graciousness and charm as an unattainable ideal. At a glance, the beautiful and demure Keiko,… read more »

Floating Clouds, 1955

On a bleak and cold morning in November 1946, a group of weary and destitute repatriates from Indochina, insufficiently dressed for the brisk northern weather, disembarks from a Japanese port with their meager belongings for an ill-planned and unassisted government resettlement after the war. Among the returning nationals is Yukiko (Hideko Takamine), a young woman… read more »

Late Chrysanthemums, 1954

Late Chrysanthemums is a fascinating character study on the lives of four retired geishas in postwar Tokyo. The film opens to the rhythmic sound of tapping, as the camera focuses on the image of a clock. It is a gentle reminder of the passage of time. A cheerful, mild mannered financial adviser, Itaya (Daisuke Kato),… read more »

Okasan, 1952

Okasan opens to the voice of a reflective young woman named Toshiko (Ky├┤ko Kagawa) who amusedly comments on her assiduous and determined mother Masako’s (Kinuyo Tanaka) idiosyncratic preference for short brooms as she observes her mother meticulously sweeping the floors of their modest family home. In a poor, working class Tokyo suburb in 1950, the… read more »

Wife! Be Like a Rose!, 1935

In Nippon Modern: Japanese Cinema of the 1920s and 1930s, Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano cites the contradictory delineation between urban and provincial life in Mikio Naruse’s Wife! Be Like a Rose! as an example of interwar Japan’s amorphously defined domestic and social spaces that arose from society’s ambivalence towards the rapid pace of modernization in the aftermath… read more »

Every Night’s Dreams, 1933

Mikio Naruse’s elegantly distilled early silent film Every Night’s Dreams provides an archetype for the filmmaker’s recurring themes: pragmatic, determined women who tenaciously hold onto their failing relationships, weak men who lead a life of increasing dependence on the women they mistreat, life stations that grow baser as characters paradoxically strive to improve their situation…. read more »