Features Four Frames Lost Classics

War as absurdity: Kihachi Okamoto’s Desperado Outpost

Desperado Outpost (Dokuritsu gurentai, Japan, 1959) starts with shots of a man on horseback in a landscape reminiscent of a Western. This hero is Japanese, and the action is set in the wide-open spaces of the Manchurian steppe in the summer of 1945 near the end of the Sino-Japanese War. Okamoto’s approach to the war […]

Features Lost Classics Thousand Words

Discover Kurosawa’s forgotten film about nuclear terror during the Cold War

Since the success of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon at the International Film Festival in Venice in 1951 – which opened the door for western critics and audiences to the rich but previously unknown Japanese film culture – the Venice-Berlin-Cannes festival circuit has been an important way of promoting Japanese films. In the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, […]

Features Four Frames

Four Frames: Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1964)

In Kwaidan, Masaki Kobayashi adapts four Japanese moralistic fairy tales retold by the Greek-American expatriate Lafcadio Hearn in the early twentieth century. Mirroring each other, the four episodes present a carefully structured series of repetitions and counterpoints. Their protagonists are haunted characters who face the unknown while struggling with a traumatic past or a present […]

Features Thousand Words

Thousand Words: Tōru Takemitsu and Masaki Kobayashi (Harakiri, 1962)

Tōru Takemitsu (1930-1996), one of the leading Japanese composers of the twentieth century and renowned for combining elements of Japanese and western music in an innovative and original way, wrote the music for more than ninety films. He worked with some of the most important Japanese filmmakers of his time, including Masahiro Shinoda, Hiroshi Teshigahara, […]