Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ningen no joken 1

Ningen no jôken: Dai 1 bu - Jun'ai hen + Ningen no jôken: Dai 2 bu - Gekido hen / The Human Condition 1: No Greater Love / [Ihmisen kohtalo 1: Ei suurempaa rakkautta] / [Människans lott 1: Ingen större kärlek]. JP 1959. PC: Shochiku. P: Shigeru Watatsuki, Tatsuo Hasoya, Masaki Kobayashi. D: Masaki Kobayashi. SC: Zenzo Matsuyama, Kobayashi – based on the novel by Junpei Gomikawa (1956–58). DP: Yoshio Miyajima - b&w - Shochiku Grandscope 2,35:1. AD: Kazue Hirataka. M: Chuji Kinoshita. ED: Keiishi Uraoka. CAST: Tatsuya Nakadai (Kaji), Michiyo Aratama (Michiko), So Yamamura (Okijima), Eitaro Ozawa (Okazaki), Akira Ishihama (Chen). 208 min. A Japan Foundation print with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 21 Aug 2009. - The first screening of a brand new, brilliant print, straight from the lab. - A great account of the final decade of Japan's imperialistic period experienced by a Japanese Candide, Kaji portrayed by Tatsuya Nakadai, embodying the humanistic, liberal, and progressive spirit of Japan. The terror of the war and the occupation is honestly portrayed in all its cruelty. This is the seminal film for Japan of its "Vergangenheitsbewältigung", the struggle to come to terms with its history. Kobayashi is in full command of the epic form. - Memorable in what is in the West presented as Part One (in Japan, Parts 1-2): Kaji's deep love and marriage with Michiko - Kaji arrives in Manchuria to take charge of labour conditions in a mine operated by slave labour, including war prisoners, the workforce totalling 10.000  - he is also in charge of 60 comfort women - the mine is a hell on earth, and the Japanese are sadistic slave-drivers - the worst is the Kenpeitai, the military police - Kaji is ordered to mount electrified barbed wire around the war prisoners, many of which are not in fact soldiers - the war prisoners arrive half-dead, some literally dead - the prostitutes participate in cruel plots that undermine Kaji's efforts to give the best possible treatment to the slaves - he faces a thick web of crime and corruption - the kindly Chinese Chen, whom he helps, is also drawn to the evil plots, corrupted by the brothel madam - there is a sincere romance between the prostitute Chun Lan and the war prisoner Kao - the escapes enabled by the shutting down of the electricity become Kaji's responsibility - but the basic conflict is that Kaji is alone in trying to treat the war slaves as human beings - he is punished by being blacklisted and demoted to a common recruit in the army, being conscripted after all.

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