ASIA212Varley

Of particular interest has been the writing of plays

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Unformatted text preview: onicle form, providing dialogues that are closer to the way people normally speak and scenes that are extremely natural in feeling (fig. 68). He also used almost exclusively a single camera shot taken from the eye level of a person seated on tatami. As Donald Richie observes, “This traditional view is the view in repose, commanding a very limited field of vision but commanding it entirely. It is the attitude for watching, not listening; it is the position from which one sees the Noh, from which one partakes of the tea ceremony.”22 The message typically conveyed by an Ozu domestic or popular drama is that life (which is suffused with the same kind of sadness derived from the sense of mono no aware that we find in the novels of Kawabata) will go on pretty much as it has. Young people will still be drawn to the modern, and their elders will continue to find contentment, if not total solace, in the carefully defined world of tradition. Other directors, however, have by no means shared Ozu’s timeless, almost fatalistic view of things. An important example is the work of Naruse Mikio, another established director from the prewar period, whose postwar films include When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Onna ga Kaidan o Agaru Toki, Fig. 68 Scene from Tokyo Story, directed by Ozu Yasujirò (New Yorker Films) 322 Culture in the Present Age 1960) and Flowing (Nagareru). Naruse sees the traditional familyoriented ways as even more binding than Ozu implies and seems to doubt that few Japanese, if any, can fully escape them. In When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, the still young and attractive proprietress, or mamasan, of a walk-up bar in Tokyo’s Ginza section accepts, in violation of her professional code, the advances of a patron and agrees to marry him. In fact, the man is already married, and when the woman meets his wife she realizes that, despite what she had regarded as her own modern and even liberated views, she cannot be responsible for the destruction of a family. In the end she once again ascends the stairs alone to her bar, resigned to resuming the role of a mama-san who b...
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