Thursday, March 1, 2007

March 1st Log

1960, Mikio Naruse, Japan

1st Viewing, DVD

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is a recently released DVD from Criterion Collection. It is directed by Japanese master Mikio Naruse. This marks the seventh Naruse film I have now seen, and I deeply cherish each one. On my initial viewing, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs may instantly rank among my very favorite Naruse films. I plan to view the film again this weekend, and I will comment much further on my opinions then, as this film has left a profound emotional mark. Centering around Keiko (played with delicate tragedy by Hideko Takamine), the film becomes Naruse’s purest work in defining his mastery of narrative rhythm. It is also the definitive work in detailing the Naruse heroine as ‘Mono no aware’ in the sense that through the conflicts and troubles (be it social or economical) Keiko understands and accepts what is “right” because it is something that must be (even if sad). This is heartbreakingly captured in the final moments of the film, which are the work of absolute mastery on the part of Naruse and the performance of Takamine. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs is a bleak and tragic film of brutal emotional and melodrama, yet Naruse’s subtle style and Takamine’s expressionless performance gives the film a truthfulness that is devastatingly authentic (and perhaps even fulfilling, despite the bleak hopelessness). This film has certainly left an impact with me, and I look forward to viewing it further again in a couple days!!


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