Sansho the Bailiff (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953) “Revolutionary in Buddhist Robes”

Kenji Mizoguchi's Sanshô dayû is based on a folk tale taking place in the Heian period; Chinese and Buddhist influence, as well as the one of the Imperial power were at their summit. Mizoguchi is one of the greatest Japanese directors who created during the period of Japanese cinema which may very well be called its… Continue reading Sansho the Bailiff (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953) “Revolutionary in Buddhist Robes”

Harakiri (Masaki Kobayashi, 1962) “Bloody Code”

Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri belongs to the jidaigeki genre (period piece). It follows the period shortly after the battle at Sekigahara and the establishemnt of the Tokugawa shogunate (1630). The film begins with a short exposition by the official of House Iyi, who talks about the everyday life of the samurai warlord. It is a perspective… Continue reading Harakiri (Masaki Kobayashi, 1962) “Bloody Code”

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki, 1984) “Purity of Earth”

From the very first scene of Nausicaä we can see that we are in a place of magical beauty. The trees, a windmill and the surroundings are coated in what looks like a spider-web or frozen snow; the flakes are falling around a man riding strange creatures, wearing a mask, looking bird-like. The man breaks… Continue reading Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki, 1984) “Purity of Earth”

Like Father, Like Son (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2013) “Nature or Nurture?”

Hirokazu Koreeda's Like Father, Like Son explores the meaning of the proverb in the film's title and whether it can be the justification and the solution to the tragic choice characters in the film are forced to make. Ryota is a workaholic and a successful businessman, hardly spending time with his family; his wife tells him… Continue reading Like Father, Like Son (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2013) “Nature or Nurture?”

Late Spring (Yasujirō Ozu, 1949) “Tears at A Noh Play”

There is a certain sadness that permeates Ozu’s films, of the passing of time and an era; of transience, of a time that will be long gone, but needs to be preserved. This is most particularly true for his so-called “Noriko Trilogy”, which stars Setsuko Hara, Ozu’s muse; Last Spring is a part of the… Continue reading Late Spring (Yasujirō Ozu, 1949) “Tears at A Noh Play”

Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997) “Fight for the Cursed World”

In 1995 Hayao Miyazaki took a group of artists and animators to the ancient forests of Yakushima, which inspired the landscapes in the film. At the beginning, the narrator says: “In ancient times, the land lay covered in forests, where from ages long past, dwelt the spirits of the gods. Back then, man and beast… Continue reading Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997) “Fight for the Cursed World”

Rashōmon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950) “Deceptive Perspectives Echoing the Truth”

To claim that Akira Kurosawa is an enigmatic director would be an understatement. One of the greatest filmmakers in cinema history, but also a paradigm (and a synecdoche) of post-war Japan, he combines influences from Western literature (e.g. Dostoyevsky) and philosophy with distinctive Japanese aesthetics and tradition. After the American occupation, Japan found itself flooded… Continue reading Rashōmon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950) “Deceptive Perspectives Echoing the Truth”

2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004) “Poetry of Destructive Love”

Wong Kar-wai is not just a movie director, he is a psychologist and a poet dealing with romantic love. His style is so nuanced and brought to perfection that he can be put in the same sentence with the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri; the early poems of the aforemention poet are not his authentically,… Continue reading 2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004) “Poetry of Destructive Love”