Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Someone Who Looks Like Gary Cooper

Green Mountains (1949)
This is part five of "Films of 1949" series (Part 1, 2 3 and 4).

In his “Truth of Cinema”, Tadao Sato vividly describes (1) the conversation among young workers in the office immediately after the war; What will be your choice? Arranged marriage or "romantic marriage"? Arranged marriage is the marriage in which partners are introduced through parents or relations; it does not require romantic relationship prior to marriage. “Romantic marriage” is realized through the romantic relationship between partners. Many old folks, such as my uncles and aunts, or those who had been in their teens or twenties in late 40’s or early 50’s, told me the similar discussions had taken place everywhere from living rooms to classrooms. For example, majority of the students, especially female students, were for "romantic marriage", some told me. They thought marriage after romantic relationship would bring gender equality and respect in family, which had not been a top priority in “traditional” Japanese families. In younger minds, there was more weight on individual, independence, dignity and respect while less on politics of family structure. Arranged marriage was something of old, archaic, and most of all, chauvinism. It was linked to failure of the old society, of the patriarch system ominously dictated in the Imperial legal system.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

88 Keys

Here's to the Girls (1949)

This is part four of "Films of 1949" series (Part 1, 2 and 3).

The Ikedas lost all the glitters and glamor they once had. A decade ago, they were the respectable clan of respectable society. The end of the war brought them a period of humiliation, disgrace and loss, enormous loss. The head of the family was thrown into jail, their properties were liquidated and prospect of regaining the past glory is dim. Their beautiful daughter, Kyoko, whom her parents and grandparents had envisioned bright future, and possibly a marriage with a handsome young man from a family of at least their caliber or preferably much more distinguished, is now dating some fellow from streets (Keizo). Then, this uneducated man surprised them with an unexpected gift; a piano. They lost their piano when they had to raise money, and since then, it had become the unhealed scar among them, especially to Kyoko. It must have been a symbol of Kyoko’s unadulterated childhood, of better days with echoes of Chopin, Mozart or Beethoven ringing in their faded memory. When a piano is delivered unannounced, Kyoko is visibly bewildered. It is not a bewilderment of pleasure. It’s a scar wide open.
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