Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nagareru (Flowing)

Naruse is quite different to Mizoguchi even if both profusely created the so-called “women’s films” or films about women stories. My feeling –after seeing only two movies by Naruse and one by Mizoguchi- is that Naruse narrative is more mundane.

But that does not mean that in Flowing Naruse storytelling technique and camera exploration of the everyday moments with a detailed observation (medium shots and close-ups) of performers -that all awareness of acting totally disappears- is not an extraordinarily mundane art film that many today filmmakers of the mundane can learn from.

This 1956 black and white film tells the story of the decline of a formerly first-class Tokyo geisha house owned by middle-aged Tsutayakko. But to me, it tells the raw story of two women living in times when one generation values and traditions are in decline, while the other generation values are emerging. This generation clash is represented by Tsutayakko and her daughter Katsuyo and shows the emotions, the arguments and the denial of both women to give up their own beliefs.

For some reason I feel this movie is full of pessimism and reading about this movie, found out that the postwar era represented to Naruse a period of strong pessimism in most of his work. Even if I could find some pessimism in When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, here is where with his long shots and the way the story develops that you as viewer get the feeling that everyone is sort of welcoming the inevitable.

Please do not get me wrong, there is nothing tragic in here and as a matter of fact when the film ends, the only main character that knows what the future will bring is the maid and she is leaving the house, then you see a river with boats leaving or coming suggesting the decline or the emerging ways within Japanese society.

I recommend this movie to all women that had to or decided to not to live the same life as their mothers did.


P.S. So I do not forget, Naruse’s Late Chrysanthemums is his next movie after this one and according to historians plays as a sort of “after the fall” sequel to Flowing.

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