Lightning (1952)

18 01 2008

In an earlier post I mentioned Mikio Naruse recently being tagged as an “underrated” director. Considering how underrepresented he is on R1 DVD, I agree with this claim. Even more upsetting is how overlooked Naruse is as humorist, even among his own fan base. Certainly humor isn’t completely separated from the rest of Japan’s humanist directors, but none are able to blend comedy with drama as effortlessly as Naruse. Lightning (Inazuma) is a perfect example.

Kiyoki is 23 and living with her mother. She has four older siblings and all of them have a different father. Despite her modernity, Kiyoki is being pressured into marriage. Her sister, Mitsuko is miserable and much of it has to do with her marriage. Kiyoki’s relationship with Mitsuko grows and both drift apart from the third other sister, Nuiko, who is looking forward to marriage. Kiyoki decides to be independent and moves out. She rents a flat and meets Tsubomi and Shozu. Romantic feelings are implied towards to Shozu, but are never acted upon. A truthful and painful touch reminiscent of Il Posto.

Two years prior, in Ginza Cosmetics, Naruse laid out a lot of the themes he would dive deeper into with his later films. The narrative of Ginza is quintessential Naruse: An aging geisha (played by Kinuyo Tanaka) tries to juggle her personal life, emotional trauma and her job. Lightning similarly lays out a lot of the humor he would later use. There is also a couple small visual motifs that Naruse would repeat throughout his career: a pesky cat, kids lighting fireworks, Takamine leaning on a wall and so on. The visual style actually feels closer to Yamanaka’s Humanity and Paper Balloons with fairly long static shots and compellingly detached.

The only familiar face here is Hadeko Takamine and she’s amazing as always. Outside of Daughters, Wives, and a Mother, this is her most downplayed (in terms of actual screen time) performance. Even though I love familiarity it’s nice to see so many new faces delivering such excellent performances.  The final sequence between Kiyoki and her mother cannot be described accurately. It’s something that you just have to witness for yourself.



3 responses

18 01 2008
Michael Kerpan

Lightning is one of my favorite Naruse films. I think it has the most perfect blend of humor and seriousness.

There are a number of familiar faces here — once you see a few more classic Japanese films.

Kyoko Kagawa is one of Takanine’s new neighbors (will they ever be sisters-in-law?).

Takamine’s mother is the marvelous Kumeko Urabe, whose husky voice is utterly distinctive.

The middle sister is Mitsuko Miura, a leading (young) actress of the late 30s and 40s, who did not recapture her prominence after the war. but she was a fine actress, nonetheless.

The mistress of Miura’s late husband is played Chieko Nakakita — who you seen in almost every Naruse film of the 50s and 60s. .

19 01 2008

All right, you. Too many months later, I am downloading Repast. If I love it, I think you should throw a few of the best hard-to-find ones on TPB as a pat on the back. 😉

6 02 2008

Your site has a great look and feel about it. Ever thought about promoting it? Would you like some high quality backlinks to increase your PR? Increase traffic as well?

Now you can do this easily via Online Advertising through the BlogPayz web portal. It does not cost a small fortune to get some seriously good site related backlinks. Through article marketing via BlogPayz, this can be achieved for little cost.

Article Marketing is increasing in popularity to get your web site a great boost. Google loves juicy backlinks and the more you have pointing to your web site, the more Google values your web site and the more customers visiting your web site.

So, head on over to BlogPayz now and register for free. Then see how much the costs are to help you get exactly the right start your web site needs.


Col 🙂
BlogPayz Admin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: