DVD Release: Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II

DVD Release Date: Dec. 16, 2014
Price: DVD $69.95
Studio: Criterion


Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II features the work of highly regarded Japanese filmmaker Keisuke Kinoshita.

Hugely popular in his home country of Japan, Kinoshita worked tirelessly as a director for nearly half a century, making lyrical, sentimental films that often center on the inherent goodness of people, especially in times of distress.

Kinoshita began his directing career during a most challenging time for Japanese cinema: World War II, when the industry’s output was closely monitored by the state and often had to be purely propagandistic.

This collection of Kinoshita’s first films—four made while the war was going on and one shortly after Japan’s surrender—demonstrates the way the filmmaker’s humanity and exquisite cinematic technique shone through, even in the darkest of times.

The five-disc DVD box includes the following films, all of which are presented in Japanese with English subtitles:

Keisuke Kinoshita

The works of Japanese filmmaker Keisuke Kinoshita

 

PORT OF FLOWERS (1943)
The sweet but naive denizens of a charming port town are hoodwinked by a couple of con men who prey on them at the outset of the war. But the hustlers’ plan backfires when they come down with severe cases of conscience. Kinoshita’s directorial debut is a breezy, warmhearted, and often very funny crowd-pleaser that’s a testament to the filmmaker’s faith in people.

THE LIVING MAGOROKU (1943)
A superstitious farming family is hesitant to use their prized fallow fields to grow crops to help feed the nation’s troops. Kinoshita’s rural drama was made to promote the war effort, but his story branches off in many directions, including one subplot about the family’s heirloom samurai sword and another about a blossoming young romance.

JUBILATION STREET (1944)
As World War II escalates, the tight-knit habitants of a street in Tokyo must relocate from their homes so that the government can use the space. Kinoshita’s sensitive film—beautifully and resourcefully shot on a single set—traces the fears and desires of the evacuees.

ARMY (1944)
Kinoshita’s ambitious and intensely moving film begins as a multi-generational epic about the military legacy of one Japanese family, before settling into an emotionally complex portrayal of parental love during wartime. As the parents of a boy shipped off to battle, Kinuyo Tanaka and Chishu Ryu locate profound depths of feeling that transcend ideology.

MORNING FOR THE OSONE FAMILY (1946)
Kinoshita’s first film after the end of World War II is a wrenching, superbly wrought tale about a liberal-minded Japanese family torn apart by war and imperialist politics. Morning for the Osone Family is both palpably bitter about the nation’s fresh wartime wounds and inspiringly hopeful about a democratic tomorrow.

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.