Home1-2526-5051-100101-50151-200201-250251-300
-
TWENTY-FOUR EYES
1954 - Keisuke Kinoshita
Japan
89
Opening Shot

April 4th 1928, A long shot of a group of children singing walk down the road. They all see and run towards their teacher who informs them that she is leaving.

The Film

Keisuke Kinoshita's Twenty-Four Eyes is widely considered among the most beloved Japanese films of all-time. The film won Japan's prestigious Kinema Jumpo Award as the Best Film of the Year (the same year as such classic Japanese films Mizoguchi's Sansho Dayu, Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, and Naruse's Late Chrysanthemums, among others). Both in tone and in theme the film is one of contrasts: between generations, between the past and future, and between cultures. This contrast and reflection of change which lingers throughout the film is expressed in films imagery (fittingly summed up in a bittersweet final shot). Though war is never shown, the lingering impact of war and ultimately of change is evident throughout the film (which stretches over a 20-year time frame beginning in 1928), and this is also expressed metaphorically in imagery (such as the symbol of the teacher and her "western" clothes, or the passing of the two boats in the sea). The centerpiece of the film is the compassion, humanity, and heartbreak shared by its protagonist, Miss Oishi. Of course what can be said about the extraordinary Hideko Takamine? One of the truly great actresses of all-time, Takamine is wonderful here as she grows from a spirited young teacher whos life changes at the toll of war. Takamine may be most remembered for her many collaborations with Mikio Naruse (notably When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Floating Clouds, Flowing), but she starred in nearly as many films with Kinoshita continually proving her incredible versatility and beauty on screen. As Miss Oishi, she reflects the symbol of the film and of a postwar nation and her strength is the minimal effort in which she captures the emotion impact of the film (simply through facial expressions, posture, and movements). The films power still rings true today through its timeless portrait of the human spirits resolve. Unfairly simplified as sentimental, Twenty-Four Eyes is one of the most emotionally touching you'll ever experience. Kinoshita probably made more significant or greater artistic films, but I think this one remains my personal favorite for its emotionally affecting drama, its visual beauty, and for the superb performance of Hideko Takamine.

The Filmmaker

To date I've only seen four Keisuke Kinoshita films, who began directing in 1943 all the way until his death in 1988. Unfortunately I have not seen any of his films past 1958's Ballad of Narayama, which was remade by Shohei Imamura in 1983. Kinoshita wrote the screenplays for his films, many of which were adapted from previous sources. Like many directors, Kinoshita worked with a similar crew- including Hiroyuki Kusuda (camera), his brother Chuji Kinoshita (composer), as well as a similar cast (most notably Keiji Sada, Hideko Takamine, Shuji Sano, among others). Kinoshita's earliest films are most known for their satirical tone, most famously his 1951 Carmen Comes Home, which is also celebrated as the first Japanese color film. After following it up with a sequel in 1952 (Carmen Falls in Love), Kinoshita brought greater attention to the war with socially-aware films, starting with A Japanese Tragedy in 1953 a melodrama with a blend of documentary (using real footage of war and postwar events). A year later Kinoshita made his most beloved and financially successful film Twenty-Four Eyes, which even won worldwide acclaim in the states sharing a Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Film. Kinoshita's next big acclaim did not come until 1958's Ballad of Narayama, which was made in the style of a Kabuki, or traditional Japanese theater. I've yet to see any of his films after this one but his style is said to have shifted towards this more traditional filmmaking. Maybe not in the class of either the prewar or postwar masters, Kinoshita has left behind some socially important films which did pave the way for the "new wave" generation (even if his style was far more traditional then those that followed).

Images
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Resources
trailer (youtube)      
-