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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Yasujirō Shimazu: Shunkinsho: Okoto to Sasuke(1935)

Shunkinsho: Okoto to Sasuke (1935)
still from the movie
no copyright infringement intended

The above image brings in mind immediately Magritte, and his Lovers. Love in paradox, with the purity of a kōan. Road towards essence requests giving up the obvious and looking beyond. Like the painting of Magritte, this movie is purely symbolic.

I was looking on the Internet to find more movies by Shimazu, after discovering, in Our Neighbor Miss Yae, his unpaired perfection in framing each scene. The first I came upon was this film from 1935, Shunkinsho: Okoto to Sasuke. To my surprise it was not a shōshimingeki story - a tale of the urban lower middle class in the 1930's Tokyo - as I would have expected. It was a period film, with the action taking place in Osaka in 1883, the fifteenth year of Meiji era. A blind girl of porcelain beauty, Okoto, a boy, Sasuke, serving her with total commitment.

Two worlds in parallel: their lack of mutual comprehension is total. The world of the mundane: flesh and blood governed by desire, joy and anger, generosity and villainy. The world of the essence, of the conceptual: you enter there by renouncing at all that kept you linked to the mundane, even your senses.

Everything in this movie is remarkable. Beside the gorgeous images, the splendid minimalism, the total restraint in the play of the actors impersonating Okoto and Sasuke (the two characters sublimated into the conceptual world), the tension in which the action is evolving, giving you the insupportable feel of inexorability, all this making an astonishing modern artwork. Difficult to watch, as end comes near. Like old age, it's not for sissies.

(Yasujirō Shimazu)

(René Magritte)

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