i’ve noticed a relative absence of discussion of naruse on this site,with the only exception being when a woman ascends the stairs,i attempted to start one a while back contrasting him with aspects of ozu as a ruse,but this failed.is naruse a minority taste or has no one seen his films apart from the one mentioned.
I watched When a Woman ascends the stairs, and didn’t like it very much, and so I never looked further into his work.
well,that film is only one example of his ongoing study of the economic and social fault-lines and fractures in japanese society.floating clouds ,his most celebrated work ,is a thorough and unremitting examination of a entire society suffering from post traumatic stress.its maturity in comparison to american and english portrayals of world war 2 and its aftermath is a revelation.he’s also the finest feminist director i’ve seen
“If my characters move even a little, they quickly hit a wall.”
Naruse is my favorite Japanese filmmaker.
One reason there is so little discussion is because so little of his filmography is legally available with English subtitles. He’s certainly one of my very top filmmakers, right up there with Ozu.
I haven’t seen a Naruse film but I was considering getting the Masters of Cinema box set. Pretty much I was mainly focusing on purchasing Ozu films but now that I’m nearly done with that but I’ve been really wanting to see many of Naruse’s films.
Well Daniel, at least he now has several films on dvd, but the problem is that of course he’s not had so much time in the general limelight, compared with the “big names” of world cinema (for the less informed public in the US at least) like Bergman, Kurosawa and Fellini. It took a while for Ozu to become widely established, and Mizoguchi has been much more appreciated in France than the Anglophone world. Naruse’s style, being less demonstrative, may have less appeal for audiences fed a diet of Hollywood rollercoaster dramatics, but it’s also suited to the current arthouse fashion for restraint
Bumping this thread because I’m still a Naruse novice although I loved both The Thunder of the Mountain and When a Woman Ascends the Stairs and his feminist details.
I’m as novice as you are regarding Naruse, he’s one my late discoveries and tha also thanks to Arsaib. I’ve only watched “Sound of the Mountain”, “Flowing” and “Floating Clouds” so far and I’m really amazed of his understanding of women’s psycholgy. I guess you’ve had a look to Arsaib’s list of Naruse, really informative and well done.
Naruse is great, with When a Woman Ascends the Stairs and Wife, Be like a Rose! being my favorites. I really want to see the sequel to that film as well, Wife, Bring Me a Beer!
I thnk I’ll go for them after Repast. :)
Wife, Be Like A Rose can be watched from this link, and is competing in the DC against the immense Liebelei.
And from Blue’s list it looks like I’’ve been copying his favourites.
I’d echo Arsaib’s list as a great resource.
Besides When a Woman Ascends the Stairs and Wife, Be like a Rose!, I also liked Lightning and Floating Clouds. Hideko Takamine is a great actress!
I love Naruse more than Ozu and almost as much as Mizoguchi. Watching his films is like drinking a nectar of roses with a hint of cyanide, his realism is not entirely austere I feel.
Meshi, or Repast, is my favourite so far, and I also need to see Floating Clouds.
Well Daniel, at least he now has several films on dvd, but the problem is that of course he’s not had so much time in the general limelight,
Actually he has only one film on Region 1 DVD.
as well as 6 on region 2 [and several totally illegal and frankly immoral torrents]
You know what! more contributors should get their hands on the bfi and masters of cinema box sets ,the Catherine Russell study and japanese film directors by audie bock .my personal insights on naruse are limited and are 80% determined by those two tomes.thats why it would be useful not only for me but the whole community if someone could find their own path through the maze and then reemerge with some insights.
moving this thread back to the top
It has been long rumored that Criterion would be releasing a Naruse Eclipse set. I hope it comes soon , and that it doesn’t overlap the Masters of Cinema set that I have (but haven’t watched yet). I’d love to see Floating Clouds included so I could see it again sooner, but it would benefit from more supplements. Some context for the bureaucracy of the Japanese occupation forces, the role of women in the Japanese war effort and post-war displacement of persons returning from territories that Japan previously occupied would be interesting.
I wish Criterion would devote the kind of attention that they have given to Kurosawa and Ozu to Naruse and Mizoguchi now, and also release more from Hiroshi Shimizu.
I agree I have been waiting for more Naruse since they released When a woman ascends the stairs, but just nothing, neither another individual release, i haven’t bought the BFI set, but Criterion should rather release Late Chrysantemumns, that film needs a restoration (considering the black levels in the photography that reflect something like a somber world, but the BFI just looks awful) I have watched all of his films via torrents and downloads, and that’s quite awful.
Yeah I agree. It’s criminal that they haven’t released more of Naruse works, especially Okaasan (Mother) and Scattered clouds along with the aforementioned Late Chrysanthemums!
late chrysanthemums does have an over dark transfer but as the bfi says it is mastered from the highest quality materials available
I loved When A Woman Ascends the Stairs. I’d also recommend Flowing, which has an all-star cast featuring some of Japan’s top actresses of the time.
In Japan, movie lovers know he was just as good as Ozu was.
Yet in US, only one DVD is availale.
How pityful is that?
Watch one of his masterpieces “Yama no Oto(Soud of the Mountain)”
or this sepia print
I love Setsuko Hara in Naruse films more than her in Ozu films.
Why don’t you compare this film with Ozu’s Late Spring?
This one is about love between a lonely house wife and her father in law.
I have read So Yamamura(father-in-law in this film)‘s interview before.
And he said that he did not like Hara’s acting in this one at all
because she acted way too feminin despite of the fact
Hara was a tomboy type person in the real life.
Actually, he used the word “garappachi” means the woman who talks and acts in very unladylike manners.
Watch Chieko Nakakita(this family’s real daughter)
She was almost in every films of Naruse’s since “Repast”,
so she was almost Chishu Ryu of Naruse.
In this film, she was jealous because her father loved his daughter in law
much more than her who was a real daughter to him.
In Naruse’s films, she always did unglamorous woman’s unglamotous struggles.
Though Naruse used many superstar actresses like HidekoTakamine & Hara,
very often you can see his true color in Nakakita’s roles.
My Top10 favorite Naruse
1) Lightning (It does not get much better than this)
2) Repast (In this film, Hara was better than in any of Ozu’s films)
3) Flowing (Parade & battle of great actresses of old & new)
4) Yearning (Who can make a melodrama better than this, who?)
5) Sound of the Mountain
6) Late Chrysanthemums (With today’s commercial standart, it is hard to believe the studio allowed him to make this kind of unglamorous film with older actresses)
7) Floating Clouds (Widely considered his real best. Ozu was so impressed. Melodrama? It is too depressing & powerful to be called so )
8) Mother (A bit too sentimental for my taste, yet you feel Naruse’s warm & cold eyes in every bits of lights & shadows of this struggling family)
9) Apart from You (One of his masterpieces from the silent era. You can tell he was always looking at the same thing with the same eyes)
10) Older Brother, Younger Sister (Remake of pre-war film, Daiei production, and Machiko Kyo’s only appearance on his film. Though she was not the Naruse type of actress, she did the great job here. And so were other actors performances, Mori, Yamamoto, Urabe & Kuga. It has a bit different feel because of all those factors)
Well, 10 is not enough
11) Every Night Dreams
12) When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
13) Scattered Clouds
14) Sudden Rain
15) A Wife’s Heart
16) Her Lonely Lane
17) Ginza Cosmetics
19) The Whole Family Works
20) As a Wife, As a Woman
No, 20 is not enough, but I stop here
At least 10 of his films should be available on DVD,
they truly deserve that.
than you! acatinny that was excellent.
[i meant THANK YOU]
Dan Sallitt has written extensively and perhaps more accurately on rare and underseen Naruses than either of the two books on him, I believe. Search the web for his name and Naruse google group and you should find some good writing.
I have read Chieko Nakakita’s interview, which consisted many lines to help to understand what Naruse really was.
Nakakita: On the very first day of shooting of “Flowing”, I went to the set, wearing a Yukata(thin cotton summertime Kimono), then he came to me and messed it up without saying anything. Then I realized that this was what he wanted for this role. What I had to be was an untidy sloppy woman. He did not say anything about acting, did not give us any clear instruction or what was wrong, but just saying “Please do that again.” So actors had to guess what they had to do with very subtle signs he showed us.
And this line is, I think, the most important one.
Nakakita: I assume that he did not like women. Female characters in films by directors who like women are usually not interesting as they are too stereotype.
This does not mean he hated women, but I guess he was definitely not the type of man who enjoyed things like dating women, and also he had a darker point of view about women just like he had same view about a life and the world we lived in.
Though his view was darker, he had a very strong survival instinct and a very strong pride, and those were Naruse’s women.
Why do you think Kikuko of “Sound of Mountain” had an abortion?
Why do you think Keiko of “When a Woman Ascends the Stairs” gave the money back to her lover?
Those were because they fircely protected their pride no matter how low they sank, and they knew those were more important for their survival than anything else.
And I really believe those women were Naruse.
Then, you might ask why Naruse always made films about women if his protagonists were himself?
Well, then you have to study about Japanese culture, and what women mean to men.
Quite a few Japanese top directors specialized in female movies, like Naruse Mizoguchi and Kinoshita.
Also I think comparing to Bergman can be interesting too
because Bergmen was also a director made tons of films about women with cold eyes.
I just love Naruse.
Acatinny, thanks for your post: I had the luck to watch almost all the movies you mentioned (I mean, those 20), and meanqhile I have been watching Ozu’s movies as well.. I can not help but comparing Naruse and Ozu like “a river and a lake”(guess where I quoted from).. I love Ozu’s stillness, but I find Nruse’s women just much more sympathetic and “alive”.. real, I mean..