Film Review: Love Letter (1953) by Kinuyo Tanaka

After a profitable profession as an actress, starring in such options like “Oharu”. “Ugetsu” and “Sansho the Bailiff”, maybe Kinuyo Tanaka thought she would obtain assist from Kenji Mizoguchi, the director whose work she had been part of for therefore a few years. Nevertheless, when a advice from the Director’s Guild got here to rent her as a director, Mizoguchi was towards it, marking the top of their collaboration, and the beginning of a brand new half in Tanaka’s profession, which might start together with her debut “Love Letter” getting into the competitors on the Cannes Movie Competition in 1954. Inside the context of Japan’s post-war cinema, the story of two lovers who turned separated throughout the warfare is sort of particular, telling a narrative from a perspective which is never seen, even these days.

“Love Letter” is screening on the 11th SDAFF Spring Showcase

Originally of the function, we meet Reikichi (Masayuki Mori), a former officer within the Japanese military, who has been residing along with his brother Hiroshi (Juzo Dosan) ever because the warfare ended. Despite the fact that he definitely doesn’t lack intelligence, he finds himself unable to take up any job, moreover the occasional translation attributable to his abilities in English and French. Other than doing the house responsibilities, he additionally usually walks to the close by practice station, hoping to someday run into his former lover Michiko (Kinuyo Tanaka), as the 2 have develop into separated throughout the warfare. It’s on a type of walks he encounters Yamaji (Jukichi Uno), an previous pal of his, who takes him out on a drink and meal, and makes him a profitable supply.

Though he’s skeptical first, Reikichi ultimately agrees to develop into his pal’s associate as he’s paid for writing love letters for Japanese girls to their lovers abroad. To Yamaji it’s clear, their lovers won’t come again, and he finds himself making an attempt to offer recommendation to them, whereas Reikichi diligently does his job, writing one letter after the opposite whereas doing his finest to cowl his contempt for his clients. Nevertheless, his world modifications as he lastly meets Michiko once more, however their pleasure is short-lived when he finds out about how she survived throughout the warfare and after.

Much like her different works as a director, Tanaka employs the conventions of style, on this case the melodrama, to make an insightful remark which fits far past the borders of post-war Japan. Total, the function unfolds into two elements, with the primary following the lifetime of Reikichi and the opposite exhibiting the 2 lovers reunited, albeit with their interval of happiness minimize quick after a revelation about Michiko’s previous. Masayuki Mori performs this man, who’s clearly affected by the defeat he skilled, as he appears extra snug inside the confinements of his brother’s condominium. Confronted by Hiroshi why he does the laundry contained in the condominium slightly than letting it dry outdoors, he evades by stating this manner could be customized in Europe. Afterward, when his damage pleasure turns into obvious, we see him cling on to those beliefs and ideas, not realizing they merely don’t match to the instances anymore.

Within the arms of Tanaka, the story of two lovers turns into not only a story a couple of second probability or a reunion, but in addition about the potential of shifting on after the warfare. All through the story, we get to know one thing of a microcosm of the best way individuals attempt to get by and make ends meet, with those that carry any reminder of Japan’s defeat or the instances of survival being primarily outcast, for instance, the ladies Reikichi writes letters for. By her view on Japanese society, Tanaka exposes points like hypocrisy and protecting up the previous, as particularly the male characters are eager to begin anew, with new companies and by re-connecting to their previous units of values.

In conclusion, “Love Letter” is an emotional function about post-war Japan, exposing a mindset which is quick to guage and overlook the expertise of surviving and getting by after the defeat. Kinuyo Tanaka goals to show hypocrisy and emotional cruelty, making her function debut a powerful present of expertise.



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