Masahiro Shinoda is one of the most prominent filmmakers of the Japanese New Wave, along with Nagisa Oshima and Shohei Imamura. While Oshima’s films were often a venue for political provocation and Imamura’s work seemed to be a bawdy refutation of Yasujiro Ozu’s refined passivity, Shinoda’s movies detail the spiritual emptiness of post-war Japanese life and search for some essence of the Japanese character.
Shinoda was born into one of the most illustrious families in central Gifu Prefecture in 1931. His ancestors were large landowners and village leaders of a small town that is now part of Gifu City. They also had a long literary and cultural heritage. His great uncle was the model for the main character in one of Toson Shimazaki’s novels, and Shinoda’s cousin is one of Japan’s leading abstract calligraphers. As a child, Shinoda was studious, applying himself to mathematics and physics; but by the end of World War II, he experienced the same sort of bitter disillusionment as… read more
Woah! I love how ritualistic Shinoda's movies are; the way he meticulosly sets up each scene from the framing to the arrangement of objects, colors, right down to the movements of his actors. It creates such a powerful impression. And how can one not fall for his wife, the divine Shima Iwashita? This is an intense, visceral, and sensual work; I loved it! I do wish I had read up on the legend of Himiko first, though, and had a bit more knowledge of the cultural context, because I felt as if I were missing some parts. Overall, though, another great Shinoda movie, and what an ending, too!
A brisk, elegant and very fine account of the legendary Japanese shaman queen Himiko. To my attention one of the best - if underrated - stagings of ancient Japanese lore I've seen. As with all of Shinoda's work, the craft is superb and especially worth noting is how he narrates the events almost exclusively through an extense series of rituals, idiosyncratic storytelling to say the least.