More early Kurosawa

No Regrets for Our Youth: Made in 1946, right after the collapse of Japan's dreams of empire--it's perhaps not as courageous as the characters it depicts, and Kurosawa's brand of insistent humanity isn't as subtle as Kon Ichikawa's attempt at the sublimation and transcendence of suffering in Harp of Burma or Fires on the Plain. But it is, however, a vivid portrait of a young woman's political awakening. rendered with an uncharacteristic intensity (uncharacteristic if you've only seen her in Ozu's films) by Setsuko Hara. 

Kurosawa's still experimenting here, but you'll see a few images used later in Seven Samurai (which, come to think of it, is a kind of magisterial summation of the Kurosawa style): the quick cuts from one character to another, all running; the people lying in the peaceful grass, staring skywards; rice planting; even the kind of crowds rushing down steps that he'll use on a massive scale in The Hidden Fortress. There are interesting things he tries here that he'll soon discard: Hara standing shocked behind a door as she realizes the man she loves is going away, perhaps forever (Kurosawa cuts from one dismayed pose to another); and a sort of point-of-view shot where Hara collapses in a faint when she realizes the same man has been killed. 

Contrast this with the near-final sequence, where Hara goes rice planting. Simple enough act, but Kurosawa attaches so much significance and drama in this one sequence that it feels as if she's going forth to tilt the planet. This is the signature Kurosawa style, no fancy experimental shots (tho he does that well enough), only meat-and-potatoes mis-en-scene and editing, making his muscular point through an unmatched skill in accumulating and assembling details to the point of overwhelming you. 


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