Yoshida returned to feature filmmaking after a hiatus of thirteen years with this brave and moving film about the struggle to maintain dignity in the face of old age and approaching death. The Human Promise reaffirms Yoshida’s ability to deal with difficult and even taboo topics by exploring the question of euthanasia with a profound sensitivity and subtlety. The film’s unusually frank meditation on death is anchored by the restrained performances by its veteran actors, including Rentaro Mikni, who starred in several of Yoshida’s earlier works, including A Story Written on Water. The Human Promise‘s use of water imagery enriches a motif central to the rich ambiguity at the heart of Yoshida’s cinema. —Harvard Film Archive
A legendary figure of the postwar Japanese cinema, Yoshishige Yoshida (b. 1933) is one of Japan’s most artistically ambitious, politically astute and influential filmmakers. Yoshida is best known for his work with the spellbinding Mariko Okada (b. 1934), one of the most beloved and celebrated actresses of her generation, and one of the great stars of the Japanese New Wave. Working together with Okada, Yoshida created an incredible body of films unparalleled for their formal sophistication, philosophical depth and sheer beauty. Underappreciated in this country, Yoshida is rightly considered in Japan and Europe, and especially France, among the preeminent masters of the modern Japanese art film.
Yoshida’s first passion, and the focus of his studies at Tokyo University, was French existential philosophy and literature, a training which deeply informs the intellectual rigor of his subsequent film work and later writing on film and art. By chance, or destiny, Yoshida was drawn into… read more