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Unformatted text preview: the years as a prostitute and has even had the tendons of
her legs cut to prevent her from running away.
Although in Sansho the Bailiff Mizoguchi introduced social criticism Culture in the Present Age Fig. 69 323 Scene from Ugetsu, directed by Mizoguchi Kenji (Janus Films) into a historical setting, he remained—like his compeers Ozu and Kurosawa—strongly sentimental about the old Japan and its traditional ways.
Other directors, such as Kobayashi Masaki, have rejected what they
regard as this all too easy sentimentalism and have instead focused uncompromising attention on the cruelty and crushing inequities of traditional society. In Harakiri (Seppuku, 1962) Kobayashi presented the
story of a Tokugawa period rònin who visits a domain to request sustenance and vows that he will disembowel himself if it is refused. Regarding the rònin as a mere nuisance, officials of the domain summarily reject
his request and order him to make good his vow by performing harakiri
in their presence. As he prepares for the grim ceremony, the rònin speaks
to the officials about another masterless samurai who had called upon
them a short while before with a request identical to his and who had
been forced to perform harakiri with a bamboo sword, the only weapon
he carried. The rònin reveals that the earlier samurai was his son, who
had been driven in desperation to come to the domain to obtain food for
his starving wife and child. Informing his captors that he has already
taken the topknots (the symbols of samurai manhood) of three of their
fellow officials who were responsible for his son’s death, the rònin seizes
his sword and, in classic chambara style, kills a number of the enemy
before he is finally destroyed. 324 Culture in the Present Age Along with other filmmakers of the postwar period, Kobayashi also
directed severe criticism against modern Japanese society. His most ambitious undertaking, for example, was the three-part drama of the horrors
of Japan’s participation in World War II—the setting is Manchuria—
entitled The Human Condition (Ningen no Jòken, 1958–61). In an interview with the American critic Joan Mellen, Kobayashi said that he regarded Harakiri and The Human Condition as similar in theme insofar as
they both deal with the “tenacious human resilience” of individuals under
the authoritarian pressures of society.24
Other branches of the performing arts, including the modern theatre
(shingeki) and kabuki, also flourished after...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13