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February 2014, arsenal cinema

Noboru Nakamura


After their screening in the Berlinale Forum, we will show the new prints of three films by the Japanese director Noboru Nakamura. After finishing his studies, Nakamura (1913 – 1981) became an assistant director at Shochiku studios in 1936. He worked with Yasujiro Shimazu among others and made his directorial debut in 1941 with a documentary. He was instrumental in shaping the studios' "Ofuna" style that depicts the everyday life of "little people" with humor and sympathy, focusing on domestic life and the lot of women in particular. HOME SWEET HOME (1951) won Nakamura his first critical acclaim and he went on to make many films that have become classics of Japanese cinema. He was twice nominated for an Oscar for the best foreign-language film. In 1967, the director's "Lost Spring" was presented at the Berlinale.

WAGAYA WA TANOSHI(Home Sweet Home,Japan 1951, 22.2.) There's no place like home: The Ueki family of six leads a modest but happy existence in cramped rented accommodation. The two older daughters have artistic ambitions which the parents do their best to support, using all their means to allow Tomoko (Hideko Takamine) to paint and Nobuko to sing in a choir. When the father (Ryu Chichu) is awarded a prize and some money to celebrate 25 years in his firm, there is a great deal of happiness. However, the family soon finds out that there is a fine line between happiness and unhappiness. Not only does Tomoko not get the hoped for recognition as a painter, the family has to leave its home. But their lost happiness comes back thanks to a painting by Tomoko.

DOSHABURI (When It Rains, It Pours,Japan 1957, 23.2.) Tane is the manager of a small, cheap inn that is mainly used by couples. The father of her three grown children has married another woman but pays regular visits to the family. Despite this adverse situation, the atmosphere in the house is very cheerful and friendly. The oldest daughter, Matsuko, gets engaged to her colleague Kazuo, but when her family circumstances come to light, his mother breaks off the engagement. Kazuo marries another woman. When he meets Matsuko again, the two begin an affair which once again only brings unhappiness. A deeply sad melodrama about a family that falls apart and a tragic love affair that only brings disaster.

YORU NO HENRIN (The Shape of Night,Japan 1964, 24.2.) Yoshie is 19 years old and works in a factory by day and a bar by night. She dreams of a more glamorous life. She meets Eiji, a yakuza gang member whose attention flatters her at the bar. The two begin a relationship, but soon Eiji who is violent and has gambling debts forces Yoshie to prostitute herself. An engineer falls in love with her and offers to help, but even then Yoshie cannot disentangle herself from Eiji's influence. Bright neo signs provide the film's visual leitmotif. The directorial elegance and beguilingly beautiful imagery are exceptional. Yoshie's face and her emotions, at first defined by fear and then by resignation, form the film's focus. (al)

With the kind support of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Arts Council Tokyo and the Tokyo Culture Creation Project (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture), Tokyo FilmEx, Shochiku Co. Ltd. Special thanks to Kanako Hayashi.