In yet another feature from Kinoshita, Koge is a mother and daughter saga with characters rendered brilliantly by Otowa Nobuko and Okada Mariko spanning over 40 years beginning in the 1920s. Based on a novel by Ariyoshi Sawako, a leading female author in Japan of the period, it is one of the best examples of the Bungei eiga (literature adaptation films), a popular genre in the 50s and 60s, often characterized by big budgets and female stars focusing on women’s issues, so as to compete with television in attracting the female audience.
Widowed at the age of 20, Ikuyo(Otowa) soon remarries, leaving behind her mother and 5-year-old daughter Tomoko(Okada). An ironic fate brings them together at a Geisha house-the mother now a prostitute, the daughter a geisha trainee. The film depicts Tomoko’s fascination as a young child with her beautiful mother, her aversion to and jealousy of Ikuyo’s unrestricted sexuality, and her final acceptance of the bad mother. Okada expresses Tomoko’s emotional intensity and complexity in an honest and compelling way, while Otowa’s sensual beauty manages to elicit the viewer’s sympathy for this typical “bad” mother. Told in a typical Kinoshita chronicle fashion parallel to the country’s historical fate, the vicissitudes of the women’s lives are punctuated with exquisite landscapes, metaphorically projecting women’s fates. (Saito Ayako)
Kinoshita KeisukeKinoshita Keisuke
Born in 1912. Kinoshita Keisuke is considered one of the cinematic masters of the Japanese postwar generation. Though his films found a wide audience in Japan, but they have rarely been seen abroad. Accomplished in a wide range of genres, he made satiric comedies, stirring social dramas and the visually compelling, Kabuki version of The Ballad of Narayama(1958). Though his plots tend toward the traditional and sentimental, he continuously experimented with his film’s visual style. Carmen Comes Home(1951) was Japan’s first film to be released in color. In 1991, he received an award from the Japanese government lauding his contribution to national culture. His selected filmography includes A Japanese Tragedy(1953), Twenty-Four Eyes and She Was Like a Wild hrysanthemum(1955).