Archive of films Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director / Aru eiga-kantoku no shogai

Japan
1975, 132 min

Section: Tribute to Kenji Mizoguchi
Year: 2017

This documentary (shot over two years) recounts the master’s life and career across some 36 interviews with actors, producers and crew members from the films. It describes the trajectory of Mizoguchi’s long career clearly and accurately, and provides a lot of anecdotal testimony about his aims and working methods.


Synopsis

The late Shindo Kaneto worked on several Mizoguchi films, as everything from assistant art director to co-writer, and this documentary (shot over two years) recounts the master’s life and career across some 36 interviews with actors, producers and crew members from the films. It describes the trajectory of Mizoguchi’s long career clearly and accurately, and provides a lot of anecdotal testimony about his aims and working methods. It also explores the various locales where Mizoguchi worked and gives a useful sense of what else was happening in the film industry at the time. The left-leaning Shindo was one of the first directors in Japan to start his own production company and several of his films (Children of Hiroshima, 1952; The Island, 1960; Onibaba, 1964) reached international distribution. His tabloid-journalist instincts are sometimes intrusive here, but the film as a whole is valuable as a source of first-hand information.

Tony Rayns

About the director

Kaneto Shindo (1912, Hiroshima – 2012, Tokyo) became the family breadwinner at the age of 15 when his parents went bankrupt. Influenced both politically and aesthetically by the left-wing director of samurai films Yamanaka Sadao, he moved to Kyoto at the age of 25 and found a menial job as a production assistant with the company Shinko Kinema. There he became friendly with the similarly self-taught Mizoguchi, and went on to work on several Mizoguchi films. Drafted, he served as a soldier only in the final year of WWII. After writing scripts for several other directors, he founded Kindai Eiga productions and turned director himself in 1951. Although he continued writing scripts for others, he directed nearly 50 films before dying in 2012, just after his 100th birthday. His grand-daughter Shindo Kaze is an independent filmmaker in her own right.

Contacts

Kindai Eiga Kyokai Co., Ltd.
Scenario Bldg., 4-16-5 Chome, 107-0052, Akasaka, Minato-ku Tokyo
Japan
Tel: +81 335 824 904
Fax: +81 335 824 959
E-mail: shindo@kindaieikyo.com

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to Kenji Mizoguchi
   
Director: Kaneto Shindo
Screenplay: Kaneto Shindo
Dir. of Photography: Yoshiyuki Miyake
Editor: Mitsuo Kondo, Keiko Fujita
Production: Kindai Eiga Kyokai
Cast: Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshikata Yoda, Ayako Wakao, Masashige Narusawa, Shigeru Miki
Contact: Kindai Eiga Kyokai Co., Ltd.
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