In the war period the best Japanese cinema refused to support or propagate imperial militarism and took refuge in the past (creating the genre geido-mono, biographies of artists of the Meiji era), in films about children (shonen-mono), in the love stories, in family intimacy and in appeals to humanity. Indeed, in the trilogy Shanghai, Nanjing, Beijing (1938-39), the extraordinary documentary maker Fumio Kamei, instead of triumphantly singing the victories in China, bravely highlighted the miseries of the conflict and painted the victims of the aggression, while the new director Keisuke Kinoshita, in the film The Army (1944) commissioned by the Ministry of War, pointed without euphemism on the mothers whose children were relentlessly taken away for three generations. Alongside that of Kinoshita, Akira Kurosawa’s personality also revealed itself in wartime. The portrait of post-war society, in a sense akin to our neorealism but with a more pronounced neoromantic nuance, also occupied the best talents in Japan. While Mizoguchi was setting a story of prostitution in the rubble (Women of the night, 1948), Kurosawa, the standard-bearer of the new cinema, made a name for himself with L’angelo drriaco (1948): later he would have realized, after the triumph obtained in Venice in 1951 with Rashomon, which for the first time opened the doors of the West to Japanese cinema, his masterpiece with Vivere (1952). But the flowering in the 1950s was general. Mizoguchi drew the pinnacle of his art in the costume trilogy Life of O-Haru gallant woman (1952), Ugetsu monogatari or Tales of the Pale August Moon (1953) and The Intendant Sanshō (1954), all three awarded a Venice; Dean Kinugasa won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival with his color film The Gates of Hell (1954); Kinoshita also peaked with Carmen’s Pure Love (1952), A Japanese Tragedy (1953) and Twenty-four eyes (1954); more and more coherently and masterfully Ozu continued his journey by analyzing the transformations in the average family; Goshō, Naruse and Toyoda each produced at least three top-tier films. Visit sunglassestracker.com for Japan destinations.
The eclectic talent of Kimisaburō Yoshimura imposed itself with them, while among the most gifted of the leftist tendency (the independent cooperatives that had opposed the domination of the 5 big houses had taken on a significant importance) emerged with vigorous films Tadashi Imai, Kaneto Shindō, Satsuo Yamamoto and others. Among the best known works in the West are at least Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai (1954), The Burmese Harp (1956) by Kon Ichikawa (1983 director of Thin Snow), Mizoguchi’s The Road of Shame (1956), and Shindō’s The Naked Island (1961). On the threshold of the Sixties, the name of Masaki Kobayashi appeared, author of the trilogy The Human Condition (1958-61), of Harakiri (1962) and, much later, of The Tōkyō Trial, presented at the Berlin Film Festival in 1985. Hiroshi Teshigahara (The Woman of the Sand) should also be mentioned, 1963) for its modernity. In the following decade, a wave of renewal developed also in Japan, which coincided with the crisis of the major companies, which, in order to counter the television competition and maintain the annual average of 500 films, gave up the so-called prestige production, fishing with both hands in the turbid sea of violence and sex. Nor did the innovators abstain from this formula, precisely to obtain an impact on the public, as the title of one of their manifesto films, Eros + massacro, demonstrates. (1969) by Yoshishige Yoshida. Only, they reversed its effects, transforming them into anarchism and revolt, into reasons for disturbance and transgression, into total criticism of the institutions. Leader of this current, which attacked and destroyed the old idols, was a complex and fascinating filmmaker, Nagisa Ōshima (from Night and fog of Japan, 1960, to The ceremony, 1971).