Mizuhara is a student traveling in Izu, a hot-spring resort area, where he meets a traveling theatre company, and falls in love with the actress Kaoru, the younger sister of Eikichi, the leader of the company. Eikichi is suffering extreme poverty, as he has spent all his inheritance. One day Eikichi hears that Zenbei, a man who bought a mine from him, has made a fortune out of the mine. Eikichi becomes furious, and goes to negotiate with Zenbei. Zenbei tells Eikichi to bring Kaoru to him, so that she can quit the miserable life of a touring actress and marry Zenbei’s son. —Tsuneishi Fumiko
Heinosuke Gosho (1902–1981) began his career in 1925 as a disciple of Yasujiro Shimazu at Shochiku Studio. Young Gosho immediately proved his skill at the genre of “shomin-geki,” stories of the life of ordinary people, characteristic of his mentor’s work at that studio. Gosho’s early films were criticized as “unsound” because they often involved characters physically or mentally handicapped ( The Village Bride and Faked Daughter ). Gosho’s intention, however, was to illustrate a kind of warm and sincere relationship born in pathos. Today, these films are highly esteemed for their critique of feudalistic village life. Gosho was affected by this early criticism, however, and made his next films about other subjects. This led him into a long creative slump, although he continued to make five to seven films annually.
The first film by Gosho to attract attention was Lonely Hoodlum of 1927, a depiction of the bittersweet life of common people, Gosho’s characteristic subject. In 1931… read more
The 'junbungaku' or 'pure literature' movement I mentioned in relation to Dancing Girl of Izu earlier on this wall deserves a few more words. Its evolution fell in line with the larger ideological change taking place in the Japanese society at the time, a return to the 'origins', so to speak, which was only further intensified by the war efforts in Manchuria. For the filmmakers it served as a respite from the increasingly restrictive censorship codes, as the 'classical' literature being employed had already proven itself to be 'pure'. This movement's key characteristics included narrative linearity, foregrounding of the plot and theme, and fidelity to the source, which, as I mentioned in a response below, was not entirely heeded by Gosho. One of at least six film adaptations so far of Kawabata's classic, Dancing Girl of Izu is among the finest Japanese silents available today.
Based on a short story that has been filmed many times, the divine Tanaka stars as the dancing girl of the title. She is a member of a family of traveling dancers touring the mountainous peninsula of Izu where she meets a young student but melodramatic plot devices conspire against their happiness. Beautifully filmed by Gosho but my enjoyment was hindered by the lack of music which always enhances this kind of film..
How beautifully Gosho captures emotions through the body language of the actors, the positioning of their heads, those exchange of glances. You want the lovers to crush into each others arms and make passionate love. They are so near, yet so far.