Mikio Naruse / JP, 1954 / 101 min.
The film is also known as The Fading Grace and by its original title Bangiku.©1954 Toho Co., Ltd.
The former geisha Kin has grown rich, but there is no tenderness in her life. Unmoved, she collects debts and keeps former lovers at bay; even the man she once fell for turns out to be a disappointment.
As in Yasujiro Ozu”s Tokyo Story, Mikio Naruse made use of static interior shots and minimal camera movements to underscore the passing of time and the inertia of growing older. By way of contrast he shows lively exterior shots full of activity: children running down the streets, a parade of street artists, a passer-by imitating Marilyn Monroe. It is Naruse”s impressive way to represent middle age, that threshold between promise and regret, tradition and modernity, stasis and change.
Not many people had heard of Mikio Naruse before the film festival of Locarno organized a retrospective in 1983. Late Chrysanthemums – a film about the life of a former geisha/businesswoman – is now regarded as one of the great classics of Japanese cinema.
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Those curious about what makes Japanese film so unique is in for a treat at Eye this autumn. With an overview of more than forty titles, we provide insight into more than ninety years of fascinating film history, from the early twentieth century to the present day.