The twenty-eight-year saga takes place in a rural locale in the shadow of Mount Aso. Hideko Takamine portrays a sharecropper’s daughter who, while awaiting the return of her fiancé, is raped by the son of the local landowner and then reluctantly sold to his rich family by her father. She never stops resenting her husband (Tatsuya Nakadai), and is determined that her children will escape his feudalistic household. —Judy Bloch
Universally considered one of the greatest Japanese directors, Keisuke Kinoshita worked almost his entire career for Shochiku, the Japanese studio that also housed Yasujiro Ozu. Shochiku was that studio most devoted to what the Japanese call shomin-geki, stories of everyday life; yet while Ozu developed a rigorous, austere style that he perfected from film to film, Kinoshita was constantly changing, challenging himself to adapt to new subject matter and ways of storytelling. The director of Japan’s first color feature film, the charming musical satire Carmen Comes Home, could move just a few months later on to the bold experimentation just a few months later of A Japanese Tragedy, a work whose jumbled timeframe and insertion of newsreel footage anticipates the modernist films of the Sixties. He made bold use of traditional Japanese art forms such as kabuki (The Ballad of Narayama) and brush painting (The River Fuefuki), but could… read more
Takamine, Nakadai, and Sada are all great in this decades spanning Kinoshita weeper, a love triangle filled with bitterness, hate, regret, and maybe, forgiveness. Par for the course for Kinoshita, master Shochiku cameraman Hiroyuki Kusuda's fluid camera movements.