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Kobayashi Masaki

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Kobayashi Masaki

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  1. Kobayashi Masaki Moralist and Perfectionist

  2. Kobayashi Masaki: His Career • Born in Otaru, Hokkaido in 1916: died in Tokyo in 1996 • Graduated from the philosophy department of Waseda University • Though entering Shochiku in 1941, he was soon conscripted and fought in China.

  3. Kobayashi Masaki: His Career • After the war, Kobayashi returned to Shochiku and became an assistant director for Kinoshita Keisuke from 1947 to 1952 • Kinoshita’s Broken Drum (1949) is based on Kobayashi’s script • Humanism - trust in human goodness • Uncompromising hero

  4. Early Works • Debuted with the short film, My Son’s Youth (1952); his second film, Sincere, is based on Kinoshita’s script and about a young boy preparing a university entrance exam while being hopelessly attracted by a girl dying of TB. Lyrical, sincere and clean, but overtly sentimental. • Brainchild of Kinoshita • How to be good.

  5. Early Works • Glorification of human good will and sincere life; concerns for pains and suffering which derive from preserving those qualities. • Three Loves (1954), Somewhere Under The Broad Sky (1954), Beautiful Days (1955) • Serious, lyrical and sincere but humourless and sentimental • More Kinoshita than Kinoshita

  6. Director with Social Consciousness • The Thick-Walled Room (1953) - re-telling the war-time experiences of Class B and C war criminals held in Sugamo Prison. • Passionate indictment against the war trials conducted by the Allied during the occupation period.

  7. Director with Social Consciousness • Kido Shiro, the head of Shochiku Ofuna Studios, who withdrew Oshima’s Night and Fog of Japan after two days, refused to release the film. • Kido’s feare - The film’s sympathy towards the prisoners who were falsely accused and expressed doubt over the fairness of the trials might provoke anti-American sentiment among the Japanese and upset Americans.

  8. Director with Social Consciousness • I’ll Buy You (1956) - the first film (as The Thick-Walled Room was suspended) that demonstrated Kobayashi as a director of social consciousness. It exposes the corruption of baseball teams in scouting new players. • Black River (1957) - about the violent and corrupted lives in a town near an American military base.

  9. The Human Condition • The Human Condition (1959-61) - the nine-hour, six parts epic, following the life of an anti-war, pacifist hero in Manchuria. • One of the representative anti-war films in the post-war period based on Gomikawa Junpei’s popular novel about a soldier who tries to preserve human decency and conscience in the war against China.

  10. The Human Condition • Part I and II (1959) - The protagonist is a labour manager of a coal mine and protests against the maltreatment of Chinese slave labour even by risking his life.

  11. The Human Condition • Part III and IV (1960)- He is tortured by the MP and for punishment he is recruited as a private. He survives a series of the sadistic violence and bullying by his senior officers.

  12. The Human Condition • Part V and VI (1961) - He tries to escape from the advancing Soviet armies with Japanese peasants but is arrested and thrown into a prison. He escapes and dies in a snow-covered wasteland.

  13. The Human Condition • Deploring the inhumane situation created by the war; passionate protest against the social and military abuse of power. • Injustice, exploitation, violence, repression, absurdity of militarism and military life are exposed by the single hero: Kaji • Impressive and heroic but improbable • Strength and weakness of Kobayashi’s humanism

  14. Harakiri • Harakiri (1962) - an impoverished ronin seeks a permission to commit a seppuku in the courtyard of the house of a powerful warlord. The counselor of the house tries to dissuade him by citing a pathetic incident, in which a similar ronin was forced to commit harakiri against his wish with a bamboo imitation sword.

  15. Harakiri • (As it was not uncommon that a samurai on destitute insincerely requests harakiri with the expectation of being turned away with a pittance.) The pathetic ronin in the story turns out to be the son-in-law of the visiting samurai and flashbacks expose that it was because of his dire financial situation that he resorted to play an insincere trick.

  16. Harakiri • The ronin takes revenge on those samurai of the house who cruelly let his son die. • Scathing indictment on the hypocrisy, the rigidity, the cruelty, the lack of compassion of the codified samurai behaviour and laws. • Also accusation of the rigorous class stratification and the imposed conformity of the Tokugawa Shogunate. • Alsocritique of the arbitrariness and the abuse of power. • Culture of coercive, barbaric rituals, chauvinism, blind obedience resulted in the Japanese militarism.

  17. Samurai Rebellion • Samurai Rebellion (1967) - a young samurai is told to marry a former mistress of the lord of his clan and soon has a baby boy with her. When the only son of the lord dies and he becomes heirless, the mistress is called back to his side.

  18. Samurai Rebellion • Both the samurai and his wife refuse the request. The lord orders both to commit seppuku, and when the order is ignored, he sends his soldiers to kill them.

  19. Samurai Rebellion • The film examines the abuse of power, inhumanity, cruelty, conformity in the feudal samurai system. • Also criticizes rigid codes of samurai conducts and the suppression of individual will. • Also demonstrates penalty to be paid when samurai rebels.

  20. Youth of Japan • Youth of Japan / Hymn to a Tired Man (1968) • A man is forced to revisit the unpleasant past when his rebellious son falls in love with a daughter of a sadistic military officer whom he hated as a private during the war. Wartime experiences are depicted in mastery flashbacks against the dullness of postwar amnesia.

  21. Tokyo Trial • Tokyo Trial (1983) - a documentary film about the Tokyo military tribunal between 1946 and 1948. The documentary consists of films recorded during the trial by Americans, and newsreels. Objectivity is kept throughout the film and various interpretations are possible about the trial.

  22. Subjects and Themes of Kobayashi’s Films • Exposure of inhumanity in military service and feudal society • Protest against the abuse of military and feudal power • Questioning authority in general • Revelation of the cost of the abuse of power

  23. Subjects and Themes of Kobayashi’s Films • Anti-samurai films rather than samurai films • Anti-war films rather than war films The maker of films with social consciousness 社会派 • Imai Tadashi, Yamamoto Satsuo and Kumai Kei

  24. Subjects and Themes of Kobayashi’s Films • The convictions and belief reflected in Kobayashi’s films derived from his war-time experience. • Conscripted to military service in Manchuria • Repeatedly beaten up for not obeying orders • Violence and cruelty to an absurd level • Refusal of promotion.

  25. Kobayashi’s Visual Style Early films • He owes his technical skills to Kinoshita • Understated but well-designed composition • Combination of smooth panning, travelling shots and zooming in and out

  26. Kobayashi’s Style • Masterful use of widescreen format • Highly formalized composition • Clinically sparse interiors • Expansive exteriors

  27. Kobayashi’s Style • Interior composition • Rectangular / rectilinear composition using shoji screen, beams and pillars, tatami mats

  28. Kobayashi’s Style • Lighting • Black-and-white photography shot with atmospheric grazed lighting .

  29. Kobayashi’s Style • Takemitsu Toru’s music • Music is used as if it were sound effects • Abstractness and concreteness of the music correspond to those of images.