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Features Thousand Words

Discover this moody Japanese film about compassion within a marginalised society

Easy Tavern is an infamous inn on the edge of town, in the wetlands of the Fukagawa. The inn’s regulars are petty crooks and smugglers. Sadashichi, one of the smugglers, not only looks dangerous: he demonstrates his ferocity by killing a police officer. Yet it’s clear from the beginning that the director’s sympathies lie with […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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Features Thousand Words

Thousand Words: From Shakespeare to Kurosawa (Ran, 1985)

William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear was the main inspiration for Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, and this French-Japanese production shows many thematic and narrative similarities with Shakespeare’s play. Both works depict the fate of a man who has fallen from grace: Lear in the English play, Hidetora in the Japanese film. Both protagonists are old […]