67 Kokoro

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Tommaso
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am

Re: 67 Kokoro

#26 Post by Tommaso » Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:03 pm

Revelator wrote:The "hint of something more" that you detect in the sensei/student relationship might be sexual attraction, but it could just as well be a paternal one. Sensei, whose soul is guilt-ridden and corroded, responds to the innocence and youth of the student for the same reason any jaded, self-loathing person might desire the company of someone untouched by what has scarred him, someone to whom he might even confide in.
Yes, that was my impression, too. Reducing "Kokoro" to the homoerotic aspect is as one-dimensional as doing the same with a Mishima novel. I don't know enough about Japanese culture in the 50s to speculate about how a more explicit handling of the sexual aspects would have fared with the audience. But Rayns in his essay writes that Ichikawa rather underlined the homosexual aspect compared to the book, which seems to be even far more subdued.

But what is perhaps seen as a homoerotic relationship by Shinzu and others - think of the tellingly ironic look Sensei and Hioki get right at the beginning from the young couple who happen to sit on the other bench behind the tree - is much expanded into a meditation on paternal relationships and, more important, the END of such relationships. Hioki's father is on the verge of death at the end of the film. Likewise Sensei (his second, 'spiritual' father) takes his own life; Kaji, who in turn is a paternal figure for Nobuchi, dies spiritually in the sense that he disappoints Nobuchi and later commits suicide. Finally, the political fathers, the Emperor and General Nogi, also die; and if this film is about the death of illusion and the death of fathers, the otherwise rather inexplicable length to which the death of the Emperor and Nogi is discussed, suddenly makes sense. Nogi, like Nobuchi, actually seems to have killed himself because of guilt, because he wasn't able to live up to what his 'national father', The Emperor, seems to have demanded of him (the story of some defeat of his army many years ago is briefly mentioned in the film).

The film in my view, though in an elusive and perhaps evasive way, circles around this general theme of fathers and sons in various forms. What the meaning of all this is, is still not quite clear to me. The film presents these topics, but doesn't seem to have a position to them. Not necessarily a bad thing, but here the difficulties to come to terms with the 'meaning' of what we see has to do with a certain vagueness in the handling, and not necessarily only with some inherent complexity.

However, this is one of the best Ichikawa films I've yet seen (I'm limited to those that are subbed, of course), far less sentimental than "The Burmese Harp", his next film, in my view. Amazing performances and visuals, even if the latter are perhaps more 'conventional' than in an Ozu or Mizoguchi film. And the transfer is indeed stunning, one of the best of a Japanese film of that vintage I've ever seen. A tad soft perhaps, but otherwise completely flawless and extremely film-like. How MoC managed to get this out of a 120 min. film on a single-layer disc is somewhat beyond me.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 67 Kokoro

#27 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:55 pm

I'm quite glad to have Kokoro available -- but would rate it as only good and not great Ichikawa (more comparable to . I can see why it didn't make a big splash when first released -- as it was over-shadowed by quite a few (recent) superior literary adaptations (including Imai's Nigorie; Naruse's Meshi, Yama no oto and Ukigumo; Toyoda's Gan; Gosho's Takekurabe). I think this has a sort of dramatic stolidity one doesn't find in Ichikawa's collaborations with Wada.

I think the stand-out performance here is by Tatsuya Mihashi, Mori looks (and often acts) much too old for his part (especially when playing a college student).

The transfer is indeed wonderful looking.

I still keep hoping for subbed releases of some of Ichikawa's great black comedies from this period.

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Yojimbo
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:06 am
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Re: 67 Kokoro

#28 Post by Yojimbo » Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:14 am

I thought Mori's was the best performance: for the most part it matched his 'Idiot' performance. He was bound to have difficulty in convincingly playing his student years, given the disparity in ages.

The homosexuality element was almost a tease, almost comical the way Ichikawa seemed to be pushing the notion as much as he dared, and, in fact when his wife confronted him about why he seemed more interested in the two males, one was waiting for her to 'put two and two together', but then she seemed to withdraw from doing so. I don't know whether the fact that it wasn't more full explored/considered was because it was still a relatively taboo topic in Japan at the time, or whether the novel had been less explicit than Ichikawa was being.

For its structure, suspenseful aspects, and pacing, particularly, I'd rank it right up there with 'The Burmese Harp'

arigato-san
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:03 am

Re: 67 Kokoro

#29 Post by arigato-san » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:03 pm

Finally got around to seeing this one.

Even though Ichikawa accented the homosexual relationship with small hints, (which are hardly in the book, as far as I know) the film stays relatively close to the book. The important themes, (which in my opinion doesn't include homosexuality) like guilt, loneliness, friendship and death are very well depicted in Ichikawa's film. Especially his depiction of the ending of the Meiji Era, with a little scene near the ending and some extra information add some understanding of the time in which the story is set.

I also liked how Ichikawa changed the reading of the letter depicting the events of Sensei's life into Sensei's memories as he recalls them. He turns the film into a more objective narrative, with a few scenes where neither the protagonist or Sensei are visible. In the book everything is told from the student's view, which makes it more subjective and psychological. It seems a good alternative to what other directors would probably have done in voice-over. Ichikawa made a psychological novel into a very visual film that doesn't rely on voice overs all the time, that's an accomplishment on itself, I think. I'm curious about his other literary adaptations now, especially novels like Tanazaki's The Key or Soseki's I Am Cat make me wonder how he handled those.

Revelator
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:33 pm

Re: 67 Kokoro

#30 Post by Revelator » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:59 pm

arigato-san wrote: I'm curious about his other literary adaptations now, especially novels like Tanazaki's The Key or Soseki's I Am Cat make me wonder how he handled those.
You've probably already seen Enjo--if not, it's an equally masterful adaptation, in this case of Mishima's The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. I watched it shortly after reading the book and was astonished at how fully it captured and transfigured its source material. (And I'm usually one of those book-is-better creeps.)

And of course The Burmese Harp and Fires on the Plain are both literary adaptations, and both completely successful at preserving the elements that made the books worthwhile. Fires willfully departs more from its source but is stronger for doing so--a rare case of the book being softer than the movie.

arigato-san
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:03 am

Re: 67 Kokoro

#31 Post by arigato-san » Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:50 am

Revelator wrote:
arigato-san wrote: I'm curious about his other literary adaptations now, especially novels like Tanazaki's The Key or Soseki's I Am Cat make me wonder how he handled those.
You've probably already seen Enjo--if not, it's an equally masterful adaptation, in this case of Mishima's The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. I watched it shortly after reading the book and was astonished at how fully it captured and transfigured its source material. (And I'm usually one of those book-is-better creeps.)

And of course The Burmese Harp and Fires on the Plain are both literary adaptations, and both completely successful at preserving the elements that made the books worthwhile. Fires willfully departs more from its source but is stronger for doing so--a rare case of the book being softer than the movie.
I've not seen Enjo, does it have a DVD release with English subtitles?

I thought Fires on the Plain was especially good, and probably the best Ichikawa I've seen so far. The mass scenes were just as amazing as the ones in the Human Condition Trilogy. I found the The Burmese Harp slightly sentimental, but a great story nonetheless. In the film there is only slight reference to the title ''nobi'', is the title of more importance in the book?

Did you also read The Burmese Harp? If so, to what extend does Ichikawa remain faithful to the novel here?

I think Imamura's version of Black Rain is one of those other rare cases where the film isn't softer than the book either.

Revelator
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:33 pm

Re: 67 Kokoro

#32 Post by Revelator » Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:09 pm

arigato-san wrote:I've not seen Enjo, does it have a DVD release with English subtitles?
No, but some clever fellow at an Asian film torrent site made a custom DVD by grafting subtitles from the old New Yorker VHS release onto the Japanese DVD. Since further discussion of bootlegs probably isn't so appropriate here, feel free to pm me with any further questions.
I thought Fires on the Plain was especially good, and probably the best Ichikawa I've seen so far. The mass scenes were just as amazing as the ones in the Human Condition Trilogy. I found the The Burmese Harp slightly sentimental, but a great story nonetheless. In the film there is only slight reference to the title ''nobi'', is the title of more importance in the book? Did you also read The Burmese Harp? If so, to what extend does Ichikawa remain faithful to the novel here?
IIRC the fires served the same visual purpose as in the film. My memories of TBM are more recent, and Ichikawa and Wadda were very faithful to the book, more so than Fires. However, one major difference is that the book has a greater element of mystery--much of the story is told through the viewpoints of Mizushima's comrades, and the revelation of Mizushima's activities is delayed. The film is more upfront, perhaps because replicating the exact structure of the book would have prolonged the film a great deal and also because Ichikawa/Wadda's adaptation goes for a more omniscient, characteristically detached POV.

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puxzkkx
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:33 am

Re: 67 Kokoro

#33 Post by puxzkkx » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:59 pm

Just saw this and enjoyed it. One question - who was the actress that played Nobuchi's landlady and eventual mother-in-law? IMDb gives Kaoru Yamamoto as 'lady of the lodgings' but she is last-billed which seems odd for a reasonably sized supporting role. Akiko Tamura plays 'the widow' - I have no idea who this would be.

Re: Mori's performance, it has been established that he's a right old hamola... he does his best work when absolutely forced into restraint by the material. In Nobuchi's 'older' scenes he is exquisite and moving, when playing him as a college student not only does he look far too old, but he makes him a cartoon.

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