Naruse made great films with Setsuko Hara.
However, Ozu used Hideko Takamine only once except her as a child actor.
So why did Ozu not use Takamine more often?
It was because what Takamine had was perfectly suited for Naruse’s films
but not for Ozu’s.
Having been exploited for a long time by her step-mother and the film industry,
naturally Takamine had gained the “intelligence” for survival.
The suspicious way she gazed, the smart way she talked and the cynical way she smiled,
they were all she had to learn from her hardships & life experiences.
Naruse loved that kind of sophistications.
Ozu did not, especially in his late period
where most of his subjects were mid to upper middle class families.
And Takamine was way too “sophisticatd” for his taste.
After Ozu saw Naruse’s “Floating Clouds”, he sent a message to Takamine,
in which he expressed how much he was impressed and asked Takamine
to hurry to grow older to be in his films.
Because he could have used her like Haruko Sugimura, who was in lots of Ozu’s films,
most notably the aunt of “Late Spring” and the mean older daughter of the family of “Tokyo Story”,
who was also very “sophisticated.”
Ozu and Naruse had some similarities in their styles like the quietness and unmoving camera.
However, their views over life, people and the world were so so different .
Giving this a bump because many years ago I caught a Naruse retro at the Japan House, here in NYC and was quickly taken in by Naruse’s artistry, and because until Daniel Kasman I did not know of Dan Sallitt.
Naruse is always worth a bump. Glad you found Sallitt’s writing, Caoimhin, one of the very best Naruse critics.
I’m a bit infuriated with myself for not discovering Naruse sooner. But I got the Criterion DVD of WHEN A WOMAN ASCENDS THE STAIRS and watched that in September and thought it was great. What a masterpiece of Japanese cinema. It was after watching all four films in the Mizoguchi “Fallen Women” set and I have to say that Naruse’s film, which is similarly themed to the Mizoguchis, was light years better than the best of the four Mizoguchis (OSAKA ELEGY). We get to know the characters more, we get into their lives, we see and understand and are confronted with their limitations. There’s no speechmaking the way there is in Mizoguchi. And it’s all so beautifully shot in widescreen black-&-white, with really interesting editing patterns, whereas so often in Mizoguchi, there are long takes from one angle.
I want to see more Naruse. There’s one playing at Asia Society in New York on Fri. Dec. 3, but I forget which one.
Yearning, not one of his very best but very good indeed, with an incredible final act which I don’t want to ruin here.
I watched the 1941 Mikio Naruse film HIDEKO, THE BUS CONDUCTRESS last night. Fairly short at 54 minutes, but I thought it was a good little film and fun, too.
FLOWING is one of my favourites, as is WHEN A WOMAN ASCENDS THE STAIRS. I have so much left to watch, however.
I’ll have to return to the “Naruse watching” I’ve been doing recently with Laali, in oder to complete his available filmography. My top favorite so far are Thunder in the Mountain and Floating Clouds (I know, predictable, hehe) and I didn’t adore Flowing as much as others here did but it was still a fine feminist portmanteau of situations.
Mine are more or less the same as Dimitris’s, with the difference that I adored Flowing. But still I have many more to go :)
Mine would be the fierce Floating Clouds and Yearning…Mother and Older Brother Younger Sister are surprisingly touching. I still havent found a single film of him which I dont like
I stumbled upon When A Woman Ascends The Stairs and was stunned by it. In fact, I watched it twice in a row. I haven’t been able to find any of his works to be easily available. Luckily, my beloved Turner showed Mother (Okaasan) on Mother’s Day! It was lovely and reminiscent of Ozu’s family dramas. I would love to see more of this great director’s work. I see that Criterion has released a set of silent films. I am interested in seeing some of the more commented-upon sound era films like Floating Clouds. Any word on imminent releases? I guess I need to get a non-region DVD player soon. Seems like BFI is releasing tons of great stuff. And I could finally have Celine and Julie Go Boating on DVD as well……….
Old thread, but always relevant. I want to watch Naruse (with English subtitles) on legit non-bootlegged DVDs or Blu-rays.
If any of you know of legit English subtitled discs, please list them. I’m aware of the following:
- Criterion’s Silent Naruse
- Criterion’s When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
- Masters of Cinema’s Naruse: Volume 1
Are there other films of his on disc?
If you want some Naruse in R1, you can subscribe to Hulu Plus, where there are a number of his titles readily available with good prints and subs.
i’m just discovering naruse. don’t know how i went so long without watching his stuff. his eclipse series has been an amazing experience
Lumenal, There’s also a box set issued by BFI featuring Floating Clouds (1955), Late Chrysanthemums (1954), and When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960).
Arsaib, yes, I have since verified that. It looks like only the Criterion titles are region 1 though. I have considered the possibility of a getting a region free player, but they look iffy and/or expensive.