Thursday, July 02, 2015

Il Cinema Ritrovato 2015: Hana no naka no musumetachi, Kajiro Yamamoto, 1953

I travel to the Cinema Ritrovato for many reasons... not the least among them are films like this completely unknown, wonderful japanese comedic melodrama about two sisters trying two get away from their rural hometown - and especially from the family business: growing plants, that are beuatiful to look at but that a terrible hustle to mend (like movies). Plus, they hardly bring any money in (like some movies). One of the many great ideas in a film that never even tries to achieve masterpiece status and is all the more relaxed and open-hearted for it: The rack used to raise the plants is just a little bit too low for a person of normal height to stand upright under. So everyone who works their has to stay (and especially walk) slightly stooped. To be sure: This is used only as a subtle comedic device, not at all as a means of social critique - but it still infuses the film with a constant sense of bodily tension.

The film was screened in a section dedicated to early (that is, with one exception: 1950s) Japanese colour films. While the main, rural setting switches back and forth between sumptuous landscape shots and agricultural coercion (that is also beautiful to look at), the real heights of colour stylization are reached in a few shorter scnenes that take place in the city of Tokyo. Or rather in the workplace of the older sister (the younger one, Momoko, brightens up the screen in every single shot and is one of the greatest supporting charakters I've seen in a while): a big hotel with genuinely psychedelic interieurs. Here, all (humble) attempts not only at pictorial, but also at psychological and narrative realism quickly vanish. The dream factory takes over... but dreams can be cruel, too.

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