Shitoyakana kedamono / Elegant Beast (Kawashima, 1962)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Posts: 7346
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Shitoyakana kedamono / Elegant Beast (Kawashima, 1962)

#1 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Dec 07, 2014 11:27 pm

A really amazing film by Imamura's mentor, Yuzo Kawashima. Unfortunately, the only DVD available is unsubbed -- and I can't begin to claim I understand more than a fraction of what is going on at this point. Nonwetheless, here are some screen shots:

http://criterionforum.org/forum/viewtop ... 08#p501408" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And here's a Slant article that provides at least some info on what happens in this film:

http://www.slantmagazine.com/house/arti ... gant-beast" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
zeroism
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:54 am
Location: Absolute Elsewhere

Re: Shitoyakana kedamono / Elegant Beast (Kawashima, 1962)

#2 Post by zeroism » Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:31 pm

Thanks so much for posting the article and screencaps, Michael. A bit shocking to see a piece on a Kawashima film (that isn't Bakumatsu Taiyo-den) in a prominent English-language publication. Hopefully it'll help spread the word.

Digging around a bit, it appears someone is working on English fansubs for this film, so at least there's some hope.

EDIT: Should've looked at the date on the article! Surprised I'd never run across it before. Still, it's a great read, and perhaps it'll be new to some others on the forum as well.
Last edited by zeroism on Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Posts: 7346
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Shitoyakana kedamono / Elegant Beast (Kawashima, 1962)

#3 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:48 pm

zeroism wrote:Digging around a bit, it appears someone is working on English fansubs for this film, so at least there's some hope.
I think fansubs should be helpful for this film -- there's a fair amount of talking. ;~}

I do like Bakumatsu taiyo-den -- but I would think that Elegant Beast would be an _easier_ sell for Criterion.

I also got the Japanese DVD of Kawashima's Suzaki Paradise Red Light District -- so I should be giving it a first wath soon.

So much great Japanese stuff still to be discovered....

User avatar
zeroism
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:54 am
Location: Absolute Elsewhere

Re: Shitoyakana kedamono / Elegant Beast (Kawashima, 1962)

#4 Post by zeroism » Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:07 pm

Bakumatsu is great, and I'm eternally grateful to MoC for bringing it to us, but I fear we only have it thanks to the restoration coupled with its prominence in Japanese critics' polls such as the Kinema Junpo one.

Suzaki Paradise is a treat - I believe someone here compared it to Naruse, which I can definitely go along with. A boxset would be a dream, but I'll take whatever I can get at this point.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Posts: 7346
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Shitoyakana kedamono / Elegant Beast (Kawashima, 1962)

#5 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:14 pm

I don't remember any Kawashima films showing up at either the Harvard Film Archive or the MFA here in Boston way back then (around thetime of the article).

User avatar
zeroism
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:54 am
Location: Absolute Elsewhere

Re: Shitoyakana kedamono / Elegant Beast (Kawashima, 1962)

#6 Post by zeroism » Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:02 pm

Looking at your screencaps and others I found elsewhere, I was beginning to think this might've been shot by Shinsaku Himeda (who frequently worked with Imamura), but that's not the case. With the composition of the deep focus shots and use of window frames, bars, etc., it looks to me like it may anticipate some of the later Imamura/Himeda work, particularly in Vengeance is Mine. I'd imagine this approach fits the surveillance motif the article mentions as much as similar technique does the at times outright voyeurism in Imamura's films. On the whole, it looks and sounds to be something that adds up well - all of this and having been scripted by none other than Kaneto Shindo, surely Criterion or MoC wouldn't have too much difficulty generating interest in this amongst fans of their Japanese output.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Posts: 7346
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Shitoyakana kedamono / Elegant Beast (Kawashima, 1962)

#7 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:25 pm

This reminded me most of Imamura's Pornographers. Mainly this cinematographer, Nobuo Munekawa, seems to have worked with Keigo Kimura (who seems to have pecialized in films about tanuki -- and other-folkloric topics) -- none of whose films I've seen.

User avatar
zeroism
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:54 am
Location: Absolute Elsewhere

Re: Shitoyakana kedamono / Elegant Beast (Kawashima, 1962)

#8 Post by zeroism » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:33 pm

It seems Kimura was quite prolific, but I don't believe I'd heard of him before. Looking up Munekawa earlier, the only title that leapt out at me in IMDB's (likely incomplete) list of films he shot was Diary of a Mad Old Man (I picked up a paperback pairing this story with Tanizaki's The Key a while back, but haven't gotten around to reading either yet), which it turns out was directed by Kimura. It was made in the same year as Elegant Beast, also for Daiei, and also starred Ayako Wakao. Possibly worth hunting down - it'd be interesting to see yet another director's take on Tanizaki (Ichikawa's The Key is a favorite).

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Posts: 7346
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Shitoyakana kedamono / Elegant Beast (Kawashima, 1962)

#9 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:28 am

Some screen shots from another impressive Kawashima film -- Suzaki Paradise: Red Light District (1957):

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=5015&p=501629#p501629" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This starts out wit a long moving shot under the credits that looks forward to the opening of Imamura's Pigs and Battleships, but then settles into a story that is highly reminiscent of Naruse's 1930s works (e.g. Every Night Dreams). Not that this is a _bad_ thing. This is a good film, and very well-acted.

Post Reply