Mon 3 Dec 2012
My discovery of the fascinating world of the Japanese cinema progresses slowly. The cinematheque in my city scheduled the projection of a few films belonging to another of the great Japanese directors of the post-war generation – Yasuzo Masumura. Unfortunately I could not see but one film, but I must have been lucky enough to pick one of the best, as Seisaku’s Wife is a film that is both powerful and sensible, has a strong message and is respectful to the tradition at the same time.
Seisaku’s Wife is a war drama, or better say an anti-war drama, with a strong social message blended in a memorable romantic story. The love story between the handsome soldier Seisaku who returns to his remote village from the army with innovative ideas and the beautiful Okane marked by her past of concubine to an old and rich man in the city is well scripted and told in an impressive manner. Like in the traditional Japanese paintings every scene, every word, every gesture has both a sense and is part of a composition of beauty that gives to the whole film an aesthetic and balanced look. Drama is however in the making, as war breaks and the love of the young couple will be put under pressure both from the social environment of the traditional village that will not forgive to the beautiful woman her past, as well as of the danger and the almost sure risk of dying faced by any soldier. Seisaku’s Wife is one of the strongest anti-war movies made in Japan, and from this point of view can be seen in line with the post-war trauma treatment that the whole Japanese society underwent.
The film features a splendid performance by Ayako Wakao as Okane and is well acted in general. The fluent story telling, impressive soundtrack, and excellent camera work, all show that by the time when he made this film Masumara was a mature and accomplished director. I hope that I will have the opportunity to see other works of his, and I recommend this film not only to the fans of Japanese cinema.