A young woman reaches maturity and yearns to know about her father. Her mother has poisoned her mind about the man who left her for another woman. There is a tender moment when they see ... See full summary »
After Japan's loss in the war, the wealthy, cultured, liberal Anjo family have to give up their mansion and their way of life. They hold one last ball at the house before leaving. The ... See full summary »
Naruse is sometimes accused in this film of confusing a social problem with a sensational issue in the manner of a so-called "exploitation" film . But this begs he question concerning what is the social problem (I assume prostitution) and what the sensational subject (I assume venereal disease). But prostitution per se, never a taboo subject in Japan, was not necessarily considered a social problem and the social problem being considered here is precisely that of venereal disease, the danger of which was increased by exactly the kind of non-traditional forms of prostitution that became common in the wartime and postwar period.
In ordinary times the problems of venereal disease are frequently overlooked although i practice diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea remain as common as ever. The exception is during times of war, when they become particularly widespread (and represent a threat to the efficiency of the armed forces).
Even in puritan USA this "sensational" subject was treated, exceptionally, as a serious problem as early as 1919 (post-war in exactly the same way as Naruse's film) in the film The End of the Road , which is in fact very similar in many ways, to Naruse's 1950 film (although a shade more hysterical about the gruesome effects of syphilis) and was actually sponsored by the US army.
This is not really Naruse's natural style nor really what he does best but Naruse attempted after the war in several films to engage with social issues in a less detached way than he had done in his much better pre-war films. Personally I can respect the effort but much prefer the rather cool, anti-sentimental (but not necessarily cynical) style of his earlier films. However, Floating Clouds (1955), another take on postwar problems is said to be Naruse's most popular film in Japan.social problems and sensational issues
Even here however he shows a typical unwillingness too take tragedy too tragedy so that his consideration of a problem that might have been sensational is anything quite the reverse (even compared to the officially sponsored 1919 US film).
His real return to form, however, comes for me with the film Nagareru/Flowing in 1957, a rather different take on Japanese postwar problems (as seen from the perspective of a rundown geisha house), beautifully acted by a dream cast (largely feminine), wonderfully filmed and told in a much more typically Narusian tone of wry irony.
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