Tuesday, October 05, 2010


[La via lattea / The Milky Way] (Shochiku, JP 1931) D: Hiroshi Shimizu; SC: Tokusaburo Murakami; DP: Taro Sasaki; cast: Minoru Takada (Soichi Minegishi), Emiko Yagumo (Michiko, Terao’s daughter), Teruo Mori (Takuya, Michiko’s brother), Hideo Fujino (Kennosuke Terao, Michiko’s father, a businessman), Mitsuko Yoshikawa (Yoriko, Terao’s second wife), Hiroko Kawasaki (Terue, Soichi’s sister), Shinyo Nara (Eisaku Nagashima, secretary), Shinichi Himori (Kensuke Seki, painter), Tatsuo Saito (Shigeru Sakai, man of letters), Naoyo Yamagata (Kimiko, a hostess), Ryokichi Ishida (Shinji Kuroda, Soichi’s comrade); 35 mm, 3868 m, 188' (18 fps); from: National Film Center, Tokyo. English subtitles on the print. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone (GCM) with e-subtitles in Italian and Günter A. Buchwald playing the violin and the grand piano, 5 Oct 2010

Alexander Jacoby & Johan Nordström: "Never to our knowledge previously screened in the West, Ginga is an adaptation of a novel, originally published as a newspaper serial, by the fashionable author Takeo Kato. It tells the story of Michiko, the daughter of a businessman, Terao, who is loved by Eisaku Nagashima. After Soichi, the son of her former wet nurse, forces himself upon her, she becomes pregnant, and marries Nagashima, whom she does not love, to avoid social disapproval. Nagashima takes over the Asahi steelworks, while Soichi, who has become a labour union organizer, leads the workers in their dispute with the Asahi management. Then, he meets Michiko again… This 15-reel, two-part film was shot in a mere 20 days, with the cast and crew apparently sometimes staying up all night to complete it. Critic Matsuo Kishi wrote of Shimizu that “when he rushes his work, something good is made”. Fellow Shochiku directors Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse apparently helped out with the skiing sequence. The film’s basis in a mass-market novel accounts for its blend of melodrama and proletarian consciousness, which can be related to the left-leaning keiko-eiga (“tendency film”) genre fashionable in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Shimizu himself, however, was most concerned with the film’s emotional content. “Putting class struggle aside for a while,” he commented, “I keenly felt that people who love each other could also harm each other. So-called ‘love’ can easily turn into hatred, because hatred is a form of love. […] Having deep hatred may be an excusable emotion if the situation doesn’t permit our love to flow out naturally and straightforwardly. Yet even so, how tragic is the human fate.” ALEXANDER JACOBY & JOHAN NORDSTRÖM."

Visual quality on the print is variable: the sources vary from good to heavily battered and water-damaged. It opens with a visually striking skiing sequence, all white. The approach to the serious subject seems to be light entertainment. I was happy to leave the cinema after thirty minutes.

No comments: