Saturday, July 02, 2016

Midori haruka ni / Far Off in the Green / The Green Music Box



緑はるかに / [Al di là del prato]. JP 1955. D: Umetsugu Inoue. Story: dal romanzo omonimo di Makoto Hojo. SC: Umetsugu Inoue. Cinematography: Isamu Kakita. AD: Takeo Kimura. M: Masao Yoneyama. C: Ruriko Asaoka (Ruriko), Minoru Takada (il dottore), Ayuko Fujishiro (la madre), Soichi Asanuma (Chibi Shin), Fumio Nagai (Noppo), Hideaki Ishii (Debu), Noriko Watanabe (Mamiko), Kenjiro Uemura (Tazawa), Kyoko Akemi (la madre di Mamiko), Frankie Sakai (Piero). P: Takiko Mizunoe per Nikkatsu. [The film was not released in Finland]. 35 mm. Col. 90 min
    Japanese version with English subtitles
    Da: National Film Center, Tokyo per concessione di Nikkatsu
    This print was struck in 1993 from 35 mm dupe negatives derived from a 35 mm color master positive, transferred from the nitrate three-strip Konicolor original negative
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna
    Richness and Harmony. Colour Film in Japan (part two)
    Cinema Jolly, 2 July 2016

Alexander Jacoby, Johan Nordström (Bologna catalog): "The first feature length theatrical film shot in Konicolor, this musical action film for children is based on the novel of the same name by Makoto Hojo, adapted for the screen and directed by Umetsugu Inoue. Inoue was a prolific commercial director who worked not only in Japan but also, during the late 1960s, in Hong Kong, where he directed films at the famous Shaw Brothers studio, some of them being remakes of his own Japanese films. His Arashi o yobu otoko (Stormy Man, 1957) was one of actor/singer Yujiro Ishihara’s most characteristic star vehicles, and, like this film, typified the director’s creative use of colour."

"The film marked the debut of 14-year-old Ruriko Asaoka (b. 1940), who stars here as the daughter of an important researcher who becomes entangled with a spy trying to steal her father’s secrets. The cast also includes the talented comedian Frankie Sakai. Asaoka was to sustain a career in Nikkatsu action and melodrama pictures through the following decades, while Sakai brought his inimitable sly humour to a number of the vibrant dark comedies of Yuzo Kawashima." – Alexander Jacoby, Johan Nordström

AA: A children's film, an adventure film, a musical, a spy story with science fiction elements.

Ruriko enters the spy villains' lair to rescue his father, a scientist whose invention is important for humanity. Also her mother is in the clutch of the villains, being whipped to put pressure on father. Ruriko escapes, taking her father's secret formula with her, hidden in her green music box. Believing her parents are dead Ruriko meets in a cave in the forest orphan boys who have escaped from the House of Light, sporting masks which scare the villains. As the kids fight the villains on a suspension bridge the green music box falls into a river flowing to Tokyo. On their way to Tokyo they meet yet another orphan boy, and they are also joined by a girl whose mother is a singer in Tokyo. They try to find the music box in Tokyo, but there are many similar ones. There are interesting scenes in an antique store and at Union Circus which is a front for the spies. There is a happy ending, Ruriko's parents are alive, after all, and they decide to adopt the three orphans who have followed Ruriko. The girl joins her singer mother, as well.

There is a framing story in the musical format, to the sound of the music of the green music box.

The colour in the Konicolor world is somewhat stylized and sometimes a bit off, but this feels like a faithful presentation of it.

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