Japan | 121 min.
black & white
• New high definition digital transfer
• New and improved optional English subtitles
• 48-page booklet with archival publicity stills, a newly written essay by Tony Rayns (critic and curator of East Asian cinemas), and an extended interview with Kon Ichikawa by Yuki Mori (The Films of Kon Ichikawa) on the “Beginnings” of the director’s involvement in cinema
Kon Ichikawa, 1955
Brimful with brooding psychological torment, Kokoro is vintage Kon Ichikawa (An Actor’s Revenge, The Burmese Harp, Tokyo Olympiad). Based on a novel by celebrated Japanese author Natsume Soseki, the director foregrounds its themes of individual isolation and social estrangement, most notably in a central protagonist stricken by existential demons and stranded by changing times.
Why does Nobuchi (Masayuki Mori) visit the grave of his old friend Kaji (Tatsuya Mihashi)? Why is he so secretive with his wife Shizu (Michiyo Aratama)? And how does Nobuchi’s friendship with the young student Hioki (Shoji Yasui) – for whom the older man acts as reluctant sensei – relate to his time with Kaji? As the Meiji Era draws to a close with the emperor’s death and the suicide of General Nogi, a fateful tale of tainted love, failed friendship, and redemptive honour unravels with tragic consequences.
Though sometimes overlooked in the director’s impressive oeuvre, Ichikawa’s profoundly beautiful rendering of Soseki’s novel is a considerable work of cinema in its own right. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Kokoro for home viewing in the UK for the very first time.