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still from Love Under the Crucifix (Kinuyo Tanaka, JP 1962)

Love Under the Crucifix

Kinuyo Tanaka / JP, 1962 / 102 min.

Eye screens four forgotten Kinuyo Tanaka films. She was a groundbreaking Japanese director in a studio system that actively discouraged female directors. Love Under the Crucifix is her costume drama about the forbidden romance between the daughter of a famous tea master and a married samurai.

poster Love Under the Crucifix (Kinuyo Tanaka, JP 1962)
Tanaka’s final work as a director evokes the golden age ofJapanese cinema with a large-scale, sixteenth-century-set costume drama. Produced by the independent studio Ninjin Kurabu,Love Under the Crucifix centers on the forbidden romance between Ogin (Ineko Arima), daughter of a famous tea master, and Ukon (Tatsuya Nakadai), a married samurai. The shogunate’s prohibition of Ukon’s Christian faith forces the lovers to fight against the prejudices of an oppressive society while persisting in their mutual devotion.

4K restoration

About Kinuyo Tanaka

A pioneering woman in a studio system that actively discouraged female directors, Kinuyo Tanaka made six groundbreaking features over the course of a decade, dismissing the passivity assigned to most female protagonists of the era and creating a small, radical oeuvre of progressive heroines. Though she has long been renowned as an iconic actor, having starred in films by directors such as Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Mikio Naruse, Tanaka’s own work as a filmmaker has been conspicuously absent from most studies of Japanese cinema.

The half dozen films that Tanaka made as a director possess significant sociopolitical themes as told from, and informed by, a female perspective. In these films, women avoid becoming objects of the male gaze even though they desire men, and they refuse to conform to restrictive social roles (e.g., the “perfect wife”) as they seek independence and individual agency.

With insight and compassion, Tanaka critiques the social conditions and forces that shape her heroines’ struggles: the reduction of a woman to passive romantic partner (The Moon Has Risen, 1955), taboos surrounding mortality and the female body (Forever a Woman, 1955), colonial politics (The Wandering Princess, 1960), and religious persecution and forbidden love (Love Under the Crucifix, 1962).

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Kinuyo Tanaka

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102 min.







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Restored & Unseen

At last, a chance to see that Italian classic that’s been on the list for so long? Or relish that wonderful restoration of Blue Movie, the Netherlands’ most talked-about nude film of the seventies, when the Bijlmer district was still a sexual paradise? Restored & Unseen is a biweekly programme featuring classics and recent restorations, with introductions by experts.

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still from Love Under the Crucifix (Kinuyo Tanaka, JP 1962)
still from Love Under the Crucifix (Kinuyo Tanaka, JP 1962)

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