Tag Archives: Mikio Naruse

Mikio Naruse – Haru no mezame AKA Spring Awakens (1947)

“Haru no mezame” was Naruse’s third full-lenth post-war film — and a delightful surprise. It turns out to be a slice of life film, centered around a couple of years in the life of a rural high school girl — played by 16 year old Yoshiko Kuga (future star in Portrait of Madame Yuki, Banka, Equinox Flower, Good Morning) — still a tiny bit plumpish — and not full grown. Almost no plot to speak of — just normal events of school and home life and hanging around with friends. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Okasan aka Mother (1952)

Based on a girl’s prize-winning school essay on the subject of “My Mother”. Mizuki Yoko fashioned one of her most moving scripts. Upon the death of her husband the mother (Tanaka Kinuyo) runs the family laundry by herself. She is helped by her first daughter (Kagawa Kyoko) bust must send her second daughter to live with relatives because she cannot afford to keep her. A real shomingeki with lots of heart
— Donald Richie, A Hundred Years of Japanese Film. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Iwashigumo AKA Summer Clouds (1958)

This ensemble piece recounts the lives of a family of farmers by interweaving several different storylines. Holding these stories together is the central figure of a young war widow torn between maintaining her independence and the necessity of remarrying. This is a familiar predicament for Naruse’s heroines, but the film represents a change of pace for the director in many other ways. For one thing, it is his first widescreen color film. Also, while the typical Naruse film takes place in the city, even if its characters often journey into the countryside, here the setting is resolutely rural. The result traces change in postwar Japan (another typical Naruse concern) from the point of view of the farming peasantry, as land reform and economic growth exacerbate the generation gap between restless youngsters and their tradition-bound elders. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Kotan no kuchibue AKA Whistling in Kotan (1959)

“Hashimoto Shinobu wrote the script based on Ishimori Nobuo’s original story, which won prizes including the first Mimei Literature Award. Depicts an Ainu girl and her younger brother living in a Hokkaido kotan (Ainu village), as they overcome discrimination and poverty.” Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki AKA When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960)

This is the story of Mama, a.k.a. Keiko, a middle-aged geisha who must choose to either get married or buy a bar of her own. Her family hounds her for money, her customers for her attention, and she is continually in debt. The life of a geisha is examined as well as the way in which the system traps and sometimes kills those in it. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Nasanunaka AKA No Blood Relation (1932)

In No Blood Relation, a gripping early example of Mikio Naruse’s cinematic boldness, featuring a screenplay by Ozu’s famed collaborator Kogo Noda, an actress returns to Tokyo after a successful stint in Hollywood to reclaim—with the help of her gangster brother—the daughter she abandoned years before. Read More »

Mikio Naruse – Uwasa no musume aka The Girl in the Rumor (1935)

A story of two sisters, the older being more traditional, the younger a “moga” (“modern girl”). Their widowed father runs the family sake shop — but is running into financial trouble (causing him to make some bad decisions). Meanwhile, his long-time mistress’s little business is also on the rocks. Amidst this, the older sister is introduced to a well-off suitor (a university boy who is much more intrigued by the less traditional “little sister”). Add a dotty grandfather, an officious uncle and busy body neighbors. Read More »