Hiroshi Shimizu – Joi no kiroku AKA Record of a Woman Doctor (1941)
A group of female doctors travel to a remote village during their summer holiday to offer free medical care to villagers. There they must battle prejudice and superstition as much as disease. Stars Kinuyo Tanaka and Shin Saburi.
This is one of the template stories of medical care in a doctorless village. It is a strange story that female doctors and medical students from medical schools in Tokyo suddenly come to a village deep in the mountains and start providing medical services for free, and I guess they were dispatched at the request of the Ministry of Health and Welfare under a national public health project or something like that, but I don’t care about that.
The composition of the story is similar to that of “Nobuko”, a woman of the new era who reforms the old customs. Again, Shimizu’s point of view is close to the middle ground. The “gyoja” (mountain priest) appears as a symbol of the old customs, but he is also a comedy relief. He takes a sickly girl out of the village to help her get a job at a spinning mill, but teacher Shin Saburi, who rushes to the scene, gets very angry with him. He apologizes and says, “I’m sorry,” but the teacher says, “If you’re sorry, carry the girl on your back and go home”. It is important that the priest not be driven out of the village at this point. He ends up becoming a propagandist for the female doctors and others. It was strange to see him blowing a conch shell and going around telling people that there was going to be a lecture on hygiene. The priest will probably continue to live a robust life in the village in his own way.
Kinuyo Tanaka decides to stay in the village, but Dr. Masami Morikawa tells her, “Don’t get in the way of the village children”. It would only be harmful if she remained in the village with an outsider’s attitude and charitable spirit. “I don’t know who I am…” Tanaka realizes, “I’m going to abandon ‘myself’ and stay”. I really like this kind of moderation, which is typical of Shimizu, and does not assume that reform is good.
Kinuyo Tanaka, looking completely like a villager, hands out milk to the baby. Behind her, Shin Saburi is exercising with his students. I wonder if he got married and had a baby. This is a stylish last scene that tells the whole story in one minute, without any unnecessary lines. Personally, I enjoyed this movie the most out of all the Shimizu movies.
By the way, Ms. Masami Morikawa has appeared in several Shimizu films. I was happy to find out that she is still alive at the age of 101. Surprisingly, there are many actresses who have a long life.
378MB | 1h 35m | 640×480 | mkv