Kon Ichikawa

Kon Ichikawa – Anata to watashi no aikotoba: Sayônara, konnichiwa AKA Goodbye, Hello (1959)

There is little to nothing written in English about this film, and in fact of the entire Cinemateque Ontario Ichikawa Kon tome the only mention of Goodbye, Hello was in the extensive filmography. This was one of the films Ichikawa made for Daiei that he co-wrote with his wife Wado Natto, the pair being one of world cinema’s great husband and wife collaborations. Ichikawa worked with the cinematographer for Goodbye, Hello, Kobayashi Setsuo, on some of his best looking films: Ten Dark Women, Fires on the Plain, and An Actor’s Revenge. Actress Kyo Machiko was certainly a familiar face in Ichikawa’s films, starring in Odd Obsession and The Pit. Judging by cast and crew alone, this looks like prime Ichikawa, and I personally find this period of his filmmaking (late 50s, early 60s) the most interesting. Read More »

Kon Ichikawa – Nihonbashi AKA Bridge of Japan (1956) (HD)

Ichikawa’s 1956 adaptation of Nihonbashi was the first to take the work of Kyoka Izumi— until then regarded as a writer of common tragic melodramas—and re-evaluate it as a sanbi-ha work of decadence, aestheticism, and intrigue. Ichikawa’s film presents the tragic plot of the young geisha who is unable to enact her love for a man publicly in any way other than a histrionic story of torment, a heart-rending tale of lovers being crushed by fate. Instead Ichikawa shows the contest of wills that transpires as two geisha, Oko (Chikage Awashima) and Kiyoha (Fujiko Yamamoto) fight for the top spot in Nihonbashi, the pinnacle ot the Tokyo geisha world. Nihonbashi is an elegant, if steely, exposition of manners. The young doctor, Shinzo Katsuragi (Ryuji Shinagawa), is the object of affection for both women, but appears to be more the choice reward for the plotting and thieving of these two early modern superwomen, than a lover they swoon over. Read More »

Kon Ichikawa – Biruma no tategoto aka The Burmese harp (1956)

Captain Inouye is a music lover and he taught his unit to sing. One of his soldiers, Mizushima, learned to play harp to accompany the chorus of his comrades, discovering a gift unknown to himself before war. The music will save the company when Japan surrenders but now the country and its soldiers has to split his spirit in two: either accept, either refuse… either live, either die… but the film finds even more subtle separations, as if receiving like the burman soil it begins and ends with all the scars and tugs of postwar Japan. Read More »

Kon Ichikawa – Yukinojô henge AKA An Actor’s Revenge [+Extras] (1963)

Master Director Kon Ichikawa’s 1963 classic is considered by many to be one of the finest films ever made in Japan.Kasuo Hasegawa stars as Yukinojo, a talented kabuki actor who specializes in playing female roles (women were not allowed on the stage during the period of the film). But his success on the stage is but a means to an end; his true goal is to visit vengeance upon the three ruthless and powerful men who destroyed his family’s business and drove his parents to commit suicide.Yukinojo’s vengeance will be carefully scripted, and skillfully acted. But the price of admission will be high indeed. Read More »

Kon Ichikawa – Inugami-ke no ichizoku AKA The Inugami Family (1976)

Legendary Japanese director Ichikawa Kons 1976 film The Inugami Family, holds a very special place in Japans long tradition of supernatural suspense. Based on Yokomizo Seishis epic work, the slow-burning family murder mystery is a highly influential title in the directors celebrated filmography and just about required viewing for Japanese cinema fans. When tycoon Inugami Sahei passes away, he unexpectedly leaves the family fortune to outsider Tamayo on the condition that she marry one of the Inugami grandsons – Sukekiyo, Suketake, or Suketomo – pitting blood against blood. Soon afterwards, members of the family begin to show up dead, one by one. Detective Kindaichi Kosuke is called in to investigate the murders, and the truth is slowly revealed as he happens upon years of hidden skeletons and a shocking family secret. Read More »

Kon Ichikawa – Taketori monogatari AKA Princess from the Moon (1987)

The old Japanese folktale of the Bamboo Cutter is here reinterpreted to make Kaguya an alien visitor. Sticking fairly closely to the original 9th century tale of a bamboo cutter finding a mysterious baby girl, this film puts a modern spin onto it by turning the beautiful visitor from the moon into an alien entity lost from a crashed spaceship. Read More »

Kon Ichikawa – Hi no tori AKA Firebird: Daybreak Chapter (1978)

This extraordinarily complex film is not only a send-up of every samurai film ever made, it is also an extrapolation of the value of life. The Yamatai, represented by Prince Susano-O and elderly advisor Sumuke, hire Yumihiko of Matsuro to hunt the phoenix so that Queen Himiko, sister of Susano-O can have eternal life. Read More »