Two bruised souls enact a tender, hesitant romance in Shimizu’s alternately poignant and playful wartime love story. A soldier (played by later Ozu regular Chishu Ryu) is waylaid at a rural spa when he accidentally cuts his foot on the titular object. Soon enough he tracks down its lovely owner (Kinuyo Tanaka) and finds himself smitten. —The Criterion Collection
Shimizu Hiroshi was born in Shizuoka Prefecture on 28 March, 1903 and died in Kyoto on 23 June, 1966. He dropped out of his studies at Hokkaido University in order to join Shochiku’s Kamata studio as a director’s assistant in 1922. By the age of 21, he had risen to the rank of director with his first film, Toge no kanata (Beyond the Pass, 1924), and proceeded to forge a reputation as a skillful director, particularly of melodramas and comedies. A “trial marriage” to the actress Tanaka Kinuyo in 1927 ended in divorce two years later. Shimizu directed 140 films for Shochiku up to and throughout World War II. After the war he established the Hachinosu Eiga studio in collaboration with several colleagues. This allowed him to work independently of the studios, and films such as Children of the Beehive (1948), where he employed homeless children he had taken in and raised himself, resulted. He also directed films for Shin-Toho and Daiei, the last of which, Haha no… read more
A light-hearted film made grave and enticing by its lovely, melancholic final scenes of Tanaka abandoned in a kind of Japanese paradise of lakes, temple steps, and kimonos. These final scenes very noticeably undermine the simplistic optimism of the rest of the film by seeming to divine the last gasp of a soon-to-be lost insular, ancient Japan, overflowing with ritual and quiet reveries.
Incredible stylistic eclecticism- Shimizu cuts from wide-angles to close-ups, tracking shots to two-shots, in a way that would see random and willful in our standardized age, but it all hangs tight to the story and turns it into an exploration of a thousand possibilities. It's those ever-present possibilities that make the conclusion all the more sad.