MoMA | 11 West 53rd Street
1936. Japan. Directed by Mansaku Itami. With Chiezo Kataoka, Shosaku Sugiyama, Sojin Kamiyama, Yoko Umemura, Takashi Shimura. "Mansaku Itami was one of the outstanding directors of jidai-geki (period film) during the mid-1930s. His treatment of the genre was primarily comic, and he sent up the codes of bushido in graceful yet daringly subversive fashion. In this witty and engaging film, Itami mocks the conventions of the genre and subverts sacred cows such as the custom of hara-kiri, while casting his regular star Chiezo Kataoka in two contrasting roles. Kakita Akanishi is described by Anderson and Richie as: 'a genuine character study of a samurai who was not a hero in any conventional sense of the word, being instead a very ordinary man, weak in body if strong in spirit.' The comic use of sound technology is apparent in the incongruous use of a Chopin piano piece to accompany the opening scene. Itami’s career as a director was ended by worsening health in 1938, but his son Juzo Itami sustained his father’s tradition of cinematic satire through the 1980s and 1990s." In Japanese; English subtitles. 77 min.