quarta-feira, 3 de novembro de 2010

Kon Ichikawa by Yukio Mishima

(Kon Ichikawa with Leni Riefenstahl)

By Yukio Mishima

Were I asked which Japanese director's films I most often watch, I would answer without hesitation those by Kon Ichikawa. I'm always interested in his work and whenever a new film by him comes out I make sure I see it. And since long before he had the reputation he enjoys today, even back when the critics chose to see nothing but a certain superficiality that is occasionally detectable in his work, I was never in any doubt that he was one of Japan's greatest directors.
There is a reason why Mr.Ichikawa's works are hard to understand and remain somewhat misunderstood. No one elese has his talent for eschewing the kind of sentimentalism that has permeated Japanese films in the past. His innate nature is to be dry, without a trace of sweetness. Even where one detects something cloying (reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe, as in A Woman's Testament [Jokyo]), such work is invariably infused with a mordant and wry sensibility. I find it a uniquely Japanese irony that Ichikawa's works, which are so far removed from what is after all the mark of truly Japanese superficiality - the tearjerker - have been accused of indulging in sentiment.
For one who has been an avid viewer of his films, what makes this book interesting is the way it so honestly reveals the tragic disharmony between his work and his life. For behind the making of Mr. Ichikawa's exquisitely lucid films, one catches the glimpse of the struggle it took to shape the unique reality he has created; it is a place filled with the contradictions of present-day Japanese cinema. Not only that: one is also struck with a strange sense of pleasure after reading about all the troubles Ichikawa and his wife have had to face. No doubt this has something to do with the light style of his writting, but perhaps it is also because, after all, his trials and frustrations, filmmaking has been for him a kind of catharsis, almost a Dionysian rite of exorcism.

(This text was written as a preface to a collection of essays by Kon Ichikawa and his wife, Natto Wada)
Translated by Cody Poulton

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