Okuni and Gohei is about a high-born woman, Okuni (Michiyo Kogure), who travels around the country with Gohei (Tomoemon Otani), a samurai retainer who is in service to her. They are in search of Tomonojo (Sô Yamamura), who has killed the man who was Okuni’s husband and Gohei’s master, and they cannot return to their lord’s home until they have fulfilled their duty of hunting down and killing Tomonojo. —Catherine Russell
Mikio Naruse is one of the least known of Japan’s early master directors, both in the West and in Japan, yet he created some of the most moving, darkly beautiful works in Japanese cinema. Like Kenji Mizoguchi, Naruse showed an uncanny understanding for the psychology of women. Like Yasujiro Ozu, he preferred subtle shifts of character over broad strokes of plot. Unlike either of these early greats, however, Naruse’s vision of humanity was much darker and more clinical. He stripped all vestiges of hope or acceptance from his films, what remains is only a willful struggle to endure. His relentlessly negative view of human existence has resulted in Naruse’s often being labeled a nihilist.
Born in Tokyo, in 1905, Naruse was the youngest of three sons of a desperately poor embroiderer. Although he excelled in elementary school, his family could not afford to further his education. He was instead enrolled in a two-year technical school. There, he spent virtually all of his free time… read more
Naruse's humanism is to the fore in this plangent heart-felt document of an intense relationship between a noble woman and her samurai aid as they travel a landscape searching to revenge her ex-lover who killed her husband. The intimacy of a love only glimpsed causes both to suffer as the woman's health deteriorates and within that Naruse elevates the film onto a higher level of profound sadness, loss, and death....