I have made yet another fascinating discovery in Japanese cinema with Gosho’s “Burden of Life”. Considering that Gosho has directed the first Japanese talkie ever, we can safely say that he was highly instrumental in developing it. Gosho has a very individual style in the shimon geki(home drama) format which has been highly exploited by various legendary Japanese directors.
“Burden of Life” is a relatively small film; just over an hour and at the end there is a feeling that probably the resolution is a bit abrupt. In fact, the audience would have probably loved a bit more of what Gosho was dishing out because it is so tasteful! Gosho favors close ups and multiple shots in his film, a style that I find very different from whatever Japanese cinema I have seen yet. He has a tremendous understanding of human nature, and he has a very matter of fact way of handling scenes. Characters speak to each other very rapidly and mostly the conversation is pretty inconsequential at the moment when it happens. The dialogues though seem to revisit us as an after-thought while a new set of dialogues/voice-overs are taking place. This is a fascinating observation and is subject for much humor and pathos that gets generated as a result. The characters are unimposing but endearing which makes you want to know more about them. There is a busy feel to the cinema and Gosho’s characters seem to be involved in some or the other activity all the time. This gives it a very natural feel and keeps the film moving at a brisk pace. I also found the subject of the film very bitter-sweet and a great insight into the bygone era when people had several children(usually with a huge age difference) and abortion wasn’t in-vogue.
In conclusion, I can remember Saito’s dialogue in the film where he jokingly responds to his young son saying that probably Saito is the person to be most pitied rather than him. I think as an audience and cinephile, I am the person to be most pitied because I can’t help wondering as to how much more treasure lies in the cinema of Japan that I am yet to discover!