Melbourne Cinematheque: Samurai, Assassins, Rebels and Double Suicides: Masahiro Shinoda in the 1960s

17 Aug



After giving up the Wednesday night cinema at ACMI to the Melbourne International Film Festival Melbourne Cinematheque is back and bringing with it another three-week retrospective of a cinematic master. This time it is the films of the 1960s by Japanese director Masahiro Shinoda who is cited as one of the key figures in Japans New Wave. Drawing inspiration from traditional Japanese folk-law Shinoda combines this with Japans modern struggles- particularly in the aftermath of World War II- infusing the two to create timeless tales.

One such tale is that of Hachiro Kiyokawa in The Assassination (1964). Kiyokawa is a master-less samurai in 19th Century Japan who has been employed by the Tokugawa government to stop rebels from restoring the deposed Emperor. Playing both sides to further his own ends, Kiyokawa is the epitome of the rise of the dishonourable samurai of modern times. The Assassination showcases Shinoda’s continuously developing style; both thematically with the pessimism of lost traditions in a modern world, as well as visually with the film being shot in an aesthetically stark black and white.

To follow on is Youth In Fury (1960), the film credited as Shinoda’s break-out into Japanese New Wave cinema and with a score by the critically-acclaimed Toru Takemitsu. Focusing on the rebellion of modern youth, Youth In Fury presents Takuya Shimojo; a student who has become bored with the monotony of his fellow students’ seemingly ineffectual political protests and whose thoughts become darker and darker.


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