Kon Ichikawa

Kon Ichikawa

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was a Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese film director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

.

Early life and career


Ichikawa was born in Ise, Mie
Ise, Mie
, formerly called Ujiyamada , is a city located in eastern Mie Prefecture, on the island of Honshū, Japan.Ise is home to Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred Shintō Shrine in Japan, and is thus a very popular destination for tourists. The city has a long-standing nickname—Shinto —that roughly means...

 Prefecture. In the 1930s Ichikawa attended a technical school in Osaka
Osaka
is a city in the Kansai region of Japan's main island of Honshu, a designated city under the Local Autonomy Law, the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and also the biggest part of Keihanshin area, which is represented by three major cities of Japan, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe...

. Upon graduation, in 1933, he found a job with a local rental film studio, J.O. Studio, in their animation department. Decades later, he told the American writer on Japanese film Donald Richie
Donald Richie
Donald Richie is an American-born author who has written about the Japanese people and Japanese cinema. Although he considers himself only a writer, Richie has directed many experimental films, the first when he was 17...

, "I'm still a cartoonist and I think that the greatest influence on my films (besides Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

, particularly The Gold Rush
The Gold Rush
The Gold Rush is a 1925 silent film comedy written, produced, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin in his Little Tramp role. The film also stars Georgia Hale, Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Henry Bergman, Malcolm Waite....

) is probably Disney
Walt Disney
Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist, well-known for his influence in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. Along with his brother Roy O...

."

Eventually he was moved to the feature film department as an assistant director when the company became a complete production company, working under such luminaries as Yutaka Abe
Yutaka Abe
was a Japanese film director and actor. He went to America to study theater and began acting in Hollywood, appearing in such films as The Cheat with Sessue Hayakawa. He was often billed as "Jack Abbe" or "Jack Yutake Abbe." He returned to Japan in 1925, finding work at the Nikkatsu studio, and soon...

 and Nobuo Aoyagi
Nobuo Aoyagi
was a Japanese film director and film producer. Born in Kanagawa Prefecture, he attended Meiji University but left before graduating. He worked at the Zenshinza theater troupe before joining the Toho studio in 1937. He debuted as a director in 1940 and was known for a series of live action films...

.

In the early 1940s J.O. Studios merged P.C.L. and Toho Film Distribution to form the Toho Film Company
Toho
is a Japanese film, theater production, and distribution company. It is headquartered in Yūrakuchō, Chiyoda, Tokyo, and is one of the core companies of the Hankyu Hanshin Toho Group...

. Ichikawa moved to Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

. His first film was a puppet play short, A Girl at Dojo Temple (Musume Dojoji 1946), which was confiscated by the interim U.S. Occupation authorities
Occupied Japan
At the end of World War II, Japan was occupied by the Allied Powers, led by the United States with contributions also from Australia, India, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. This foreign presence marked the first time in its history that the island nation had been occupied by a foreign power...

 under the pretense that it was too "feudal", though some sources suggest the script had not been approved by the occupying authorities. Thought lost for many years, it is now archived at the Cinémathèque Française
Cinémathèque Française
The Cinémathèque Française holds one of the largest archives of films, movie documents and film-related objects in the world. Located in Paris, the Cinémathèque holds daily screenings of films from around the world.-History:...

.

It was at Toho that he met Natto Wada. Wada was a translator for Toho. They agreed to marry sometime after Ichikawa completed his first film as director. Natto Wada's original name was Yumiko Mogi (born 13 September 1920 in Himeji
Himeji, Hyogo
is a city located in Hyōgo Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. As of April 1, 2011, the city has an estimated population of 535,945, with 206,409 households. The total area is 534.43 km².- History :...

, Hyōgo Prefecture
Hyogo Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kansai region on Honshū island. The capital is Kobe.The prefecture's name was previously alternately spelled as Hiogo.- History :...

, Japan); the couple both had failed marriages behind them. She graduated with a degree in English Literature from Tokyo Woman's Christian University
Tokyo Woman's Christian University
, often abbreviated to or TWCU, is a university in Tokyo Japan.-Founding:TWCU was established by Nitobe Inazō , a Japanese agricultural economist and educator, who was appointed as the first president in 1918. The first classes were held in Tsunohazu...

. She married Kon Ichikawa on April 10, 1948, and died on February 18, 1983 of breast cancer
Breast cancer
Breast cancer is cancer originating from breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Cancers originating from ducts are known as ductal carcinomas; those originating from lobules are known as lobular carcinomas...

. During the rest of her life she wrote the scripts of many of her husband's films.

1950–1965


It was after Ichikawa's marriage to Wada that the two began collaborating, first on Design of a Human Being (Ningen moyo) and Endless Passion (Hateshinaki jonetsu) in 1949. The period 1950–1965 is often referred to as Ichikawa's Natto Wada period. It's the period that contains the majority of his most highly respected works, and continued through to 1965 with Tokyo Olympiad
Tokyo Olympiad
Tokyo Olympiad is a 1965 documentary film directed by Kon Ichikawa which documents the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Like Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia, which documented the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Ichikawa's film was considered a milestone in documentary filmmaking...

. She wrote 34 screenplays during that period, most of which were adaptations. Wada had a talent for adapting other sources to the screen and that's where most of their partnership concentrated.

He gained western recognition during the 1950s and 1960s with a number of bleak films, two anti-war films with The Burmese Harp and Fires on the Plain
Fires on the Plain (film)
is a 1959 Japanese war film directed by Kon Ichikawa, starring Eiji Funakoshi. The screenplay, written by, Natto Wada, is based on the novel Nobi by Shohei Ooka, translated as Fires on the Plain. It initially received mixed reviews from both Japanese and international critics concerning its...

, Alone on the Pacific
Alone on the Pacific
is a 1963 color Japanese adventure film directed by Kon Ichikawa. It was entered into the 1964 Cannes Film Festival.The film is based on the book and 1962 first solo voyage across the Pacific by Kenichi Horie.-Cast:* Yujiro Ishihara - The Youth...

 (Taiheiyo hitori-botchi) and the technically formidable period-piece An Actor's Revenge (Yukinojo henge) about a kabuki
Kabuki
is classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.The individual kanji characters, from left to right, mean sing , dance , and skill...

 actor.

Of his many literary adaptations, works including Jun'ichirō Tanizaki's The Key (Kagi), Natsume Sōseki
Natsume Soseki
, born ', is widely considered to be the foremost Japanese novelist of the Meiji period . He is best known for his novels Kokoro, Botchan, I Am a Cat and his unfinished work Light and Darkness. He was also a scholar of British literature and composer of haiku, Chinese-style poetry, and fairy tales...

's The Heart (Kokoro) and I Am a Cat (Wagahai wa neko de aru), in which a teacher's cat critiques the foibles of the humans surrounding him, and Yukio Mishima
Yukio Mishima
was the pen name of , a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor and film director, also remembered for his ritual suicide by seppuku after a failed coup d'état...

's Conflagration (Enjo), in which a priest burns down his temple to save it from spiritual pollution, were brought to the screen.

After 1965


After Tokyo Olympiad, Wada retired from screenwriting and it marked a significant change in Ichikawa's films from that point onward. Concerning her retirement, he spoke, "She doesn't like the new film grammar, the method of presentation of the material; she says there's no heart in it anymore, that people no longer take human love seriously."

Of the change Wada's departure marked, it is hard to extricate her from his work. The two worked very closely and shared many ideals. Whereas Ichikawa can be said to be responsible for much of the black wit in his films (that trend certainly continued beyond Wada's departure), she also had a sardonic side, as evidenced in many of her essays. Whereas people will attribute much of the humanity of his earlier films to Wada, humanity is still a major theme in the post-Wada films. About the only thing critics can agree on is that post-Wada Ichikawa films had a definite lesser quality to them (with a few notable exceptions).

Ichikawa died of pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 on February 13, 2008 in a Tokyo hospital. He was 92 years old.

The Magic Hour
The Magic Hour (film)
is a 2008 Japanese film written and directed by Koki Mitani.In photography and cinematography, the magic hour is only a moment and the most beautiful time of the day, when afterglow of a sunset lights up around...

 marked Ichikawa's last appearance and was dedicated to the memory of him. (This message can be seen in the end of this film.) In this film, movie director played by Ichikawa is shooting Kuroi Hyaku-ichi-nin no Onna, a parody of Kuroi Ju-nin no Onna.

Legacy


Ichikawa's films are marked with a certain darkness and bleakness, punctuated with sparks of humanity.

It can be said that his main trait is technical expertise, irony, detachment and a drive for realism married with a complete spectrum of genres. Some critics class him with Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa
was a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, Kurosawa directed 30 filmsIn 1946, Kurosawa co-directed, with Hideo Sekigawa and Kajiro Yamamoto, the feature Those Who Make Tomorrow ;...

, Kenji Mizoguchi
Kenji Mizoguchi
Kenji Mizoguchi was a Japanese film director and screenwriter. His film Ugetsu won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and appeared in the Sight & Sound Critics' Top Ten Poll in 1962 and 1972. Mizoguchi is renowned for his mastery of the long take and mise-en-scène...

 and Yasujiro Ozu
Yasujiro Ozu
was a prominent Japanese film director and script writer. He is known for his distinctive technical style, developed during the silent era. Marriage and family, especially the relationships between the generations, are among the most persistent themes in his body of work...

 as one of the masters of Japanese cinema.

Filmography


  • A Girl at Dojo Temple (1946)
  • A Thousand and One Nights with Toho
    A Thousand and One Nights with Toho
    is a 1947 black-and-white Japanese film directed by Kon Ichikawa.- External links :...

     (東宝千一夜 Toho senichi-ya) (1947)
  • The Lovers (1951)
  • Mr. Pu (1953)
  • The Heart (1955 film) (Kokoro) (1955)
  • The Burmese Harp (1956) - black and white film
  • Punishment Room (1956)
  • Bridge of Japan (1956)
  • The Men of Tohoku (1957)
  • The Hole
    The Hole (1957 film)
    aka Hole in One aka The Pit, is a 1957 black-and-white Japanese film directed by Kon Ichikawa. The genres of the film are comedy and mystery.The film has perspicacious visual design combined with comedy and farce....

     (1957)
  • Enjo
    Enjo
    is a 1958 Japanese film directed by Kon Ichikawa and adapted from the Yukio Mishima novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. It stands as one of his better known films...

     (1958)
  • Odd Obsession
    Odd Obsession
    is a 1959 Japanese drama film directed by Kon Ichikawa. It was entered into the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize. It was based on the novel The Key, by Japanese novelist Junichiro Tanizaki.-Plot:...

     (1959)
  • Fires on the Plain
    Fires on the Plain (film)
    is a 1959 Japanese war film directed by Kon Ichikawa, starring Eiji Funakoshi. The screenplay, written by, Natto Wada, is based on the novel Nobi by Shohei Ooka, translated as Fires on the Plain. It initially received mixed reviews from both Japanese and international critics concerning its...

     (1959)
  • A Woman's Testament
    Jokyo (film)
    is a 1960 Japanese drama film directed by Kōzaburō Yoshimura, Kon Ichikawa and Yasuzo Masumura. It was entered into the 10th Berlin International Film Festival.-Plot:...

     (1960)
  • Ototo (1960)
  • Ten Dark Women (1961)
  • The Sin (1962)
  • Being Two Isn't Easy
    Being Two Isn't Easy
    is a 1962 color Japanese comedy film directed by Kon Ichikawa. It was Japan's submission to the 35th Academy Awards for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but was not accepted as a nominee.-Cast:* Hiro Suzuki as Taro, the baby...

     (1962)
  • An Actor's Revenge
    An Actor's Revenge
    , also known as Revenge of a Kabuki Actor, is a 1963 film directed by Kon Ichikawa. The film was produced in Eastmancolor and Daieiscope for Daiei Studios....

     (1963)
  • Alone on the Pacific
    Alone on the Pacific
    is a 1963 color Japanese adventure film directed by Kon Ichikawa. It was entered into the 1964 Cannes Film Festival.The film is based on the book and 1962 first solo voyage across the Pacific by Kenichi Horie.-Cast:* Yujiro Ishihara - The Youth...

     (1963)
  • Money Talks (1963)
  • Tokyo Olympiad
    Tokyo Olympiad
    Tokyo Olympiad is a 1965 documentary film directed by Kon Ichikawa which documents the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Like Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia, which documented the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Ichikawa's film was considered a milestone in documentary filmmaking...

     (documentary) (1965)
  • The Tale of Genji
    The Tale of Genji
    is a classic work of Japanese literature attributed to the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in the early 11th century, around the peak of the Heian period. It is sometimes called the world's first novel, the first modern novel, the first psychological novel or the first novel still to be...

     (1966)
  • To Love Again
    To Love Again (film)
    is a 1971 Japanese drama film directed by Kon Ichikawa. It was entered into the 21st Berlin International Film Festival.-Cast:* Renaud Verley - Niko* Ruriko Asaoka - Miya* Tetsuo Ishidate - Kee chan* Yôko Kosono* Graciela López Colombres - Maria...

     (1971)
  • Visions of Eight
    Visions of Eight
    Visions of Eight is a 1973 documentary film offering a stylized look at the 1972 Summer Olympics, directed by eight different directors. It was screened at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, but wasn't entered into the main competition....

     (documentary) (1973)
  • The Wanderers (1973)
  • I Am a Cat
    I Am a Cat
    is a satirical novel written in 1905–1906 by Natsume Sōseki, about Japanese society during the Meiji Period; particularly, the uneasy mix of Western culture and Japanese traditions, and the aping of Western customs....

     (1975)
  • The Inugamis
    The Inugamis
    is a 1976 Japanese film directed by Kon Ichikawa....

     (1976)
  • Rhyme of Vengeance (1977)
  • Hi no Tori (The Phoenix) (1978)
  • The Devil's Island (1978)
  • The Old Capital
    The Old Capital
    The Old Capital is a novel by Yasunari Kawabata originally published in 1962. It was first translated into English in 1987 by J. Martin Holman...

     (1980)
  • The Makioka Sisters
    The Makioka Sisters (film)
    is the name of three films based on the serial novel of the same name by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki. The third of these films, released in 1983, is the most famous. It was directed by Kon Ichikawa.-The Sisters:...

     (1983)
  • Ohan
    Ohan
    is a 1984 Japanese film directed by Kon Ichikawa. It is based upon a same titled novel by Chiyo Uno.-Awards and nominations:9th Hochi Film Award* Won: Best Actress - Sayuri Yoshinaga...

     (1984)
  • The Burmese Harp
    The Burmese Harp (1985 film)
    is a 1985 Japanese film directed by Kon Ichikawa. The film is a color remake of the 1956 black-and-white The Burmese Harp, which was also directed by Ichikawa.-Reception:...

     (1985) - color remake
  • Princess from the Moon
    The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
    , also known as , is a 10th century Japanese folktale. It is considered the oldest extant Japanese narrative and an early example of proto-science fiction....

     (1987)
  • 47 Ronin
    47 Ronin (1994 film)
    47 Ronin is a 1994 Japanese film, directed by Kon Ichikawa. The film is a remake of the 1941 version The 47 Ronin.-Cast:*Ken Takakura ... Kuranosuke Ôishi*Kiichi Nakai ... Matashirô Irobe...

     (1994)
  • The 8-Tomb Village (1996)
  • Shinsengumi (2000)
  • Dora-heita (2000)
  • Kah-chan(2001)
  • Yume jûya (2006)
  • Inugamike no ichizoku (2006)


Further reading

  • James Quandt (ed.), Kon Ichikawa, Cinematheque Ontario, Toronto, 2001 (ISBN 0-9682969-3-9).

External links