(Tsuma yo bara no yô ni, Mikio Naruse, Japan 1935, 74 min., 35mm, Japanese w/subtitles)
James Card Memorial Lecture. The George Eastman Museum is honored to have David Bordwell, the Jacques Ledoux Professor Emeritus of Film Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and one of the most authoritative and influential figures in film studies, present the 2016 James Card Memorial Lecture and introduce Kimiko. David Bordwell’s lecture will include some personal recollections of James Card’s contributions as a master archivist. It will go on to fill in the context of 1930s Japanese cinema—one of the true “golden ages” of film history—with an emphasis on director Mikio Naruse’s role in it.
“The Japanese cinema of the 1930s was as diverse and exciting as Hollywood’s, and it produced many masterpieces. But Western audiences were late in discovering this ‘golden age.’ The postwar films of Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, and Ozu attracted attention gradually, and only after the revelations of Rashomon and Tokyo Story did critics realize that these achievements were part of a glorious tradition. Even today, this era is too little known, and Naruse is only starting to be recognized by contemporary audiences. Kimiko was virtually the only Japanese film of the 1930s to find distribution in the US and Europe, and it is very typical of the understated drama and cinematic flair we find in Japanese film of its era. Kimiko is a moga (a ‘modern girl’), cosmopolitan and worldly. Her parents have separated. When she sets out for her father’s house in the country, she envisions bringing him back and reuniting the family. Her plan falls apart, however, in the face of a demanding mother and her father’s unexpectedly friendly and kindly mistress. In the 1920s Naruse had begun to cultivate a visual style at once bold and subtle. He experimented with aggressive cutting, striking use of focus, and vigorous camera movement. Dismissed from the Shochiku studio because, said the boss, ‘We don’t need two Ozus,’ Naruse moved from company to company, always producing films of quietly poetic power. James Card appreciated the strengths of Kimiko and saw Naruse as an overlooked original in world filmmaking.” – David Bordwell
Lecture & screening are free of charge. Lecture will be interpreted for the deaf.