Hataraku ikka (1939)

12 04 2009

Definitely one of Naruse’s most mature and technically impressive early films. While Ginza Gesho is still largely considered the launching point for the style and tone of Naruse’s most famous work, this little film (which clocks in at only 65 minutes) shows more than a few glimpses of the director’s brilliant work of the 1950s and 60s. Unlike all the other Naruse films I’ve seen from the 30s, this is easy to recognize as one of his. On the other hand, it is only 65 minutes long and I think the amount of characters Naruse is trying to juggle (about eleven in total) is just too much. An early blueprint for some of his refined works.

The story revolves around a jobless father, Ishimura, who depends on his nine children for financial support. The mindset of all the children begins to shift as the Sino-Japanese war rages on in the background. His oldest son slowly comes to realization that it’s preposterous for him and his siblings to support their parents, as opposed to the other way around. As it so often does in Naruse’s world, plenty of tension slowly begins to surface causing a rift in what is initially seen as a close family.

Of all the Naruse films I’ve seen, this one boasts one of the least star-studded casts. It might not be that accessible considering the fact that it is devoid of familiar faces, but the performances are still pretty impressive. I was particularly impressed by Takeshi Hirata who plays Eisaku, the scholarly middle child who wants to continue his education following graduation, but is pressured to take a job at a local factory. The parents here aren’t the most likable characters I’ve seen from a Naruse film, but they do avoid the pitfalls of coming off as “evil” parents. Not a masterpiece by any stretch, but still a nice early gem.

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2 responses

13 04 2009
noisia

“most mature and technically impressive early films”?!?!

Sorry, i think this is one of his most “””banal””” movies……and as you´ve said too much characters for such a short movie……

Uwasa no musume (1935) aka The Girl in the Rumour, that was a little gem!! Beautiful Sachiko Chiba!!!!

and for “technically impressive” watch this:

6 05 2009
Hataraku ikka « RioLisboa

[…] The Whole Family Works, by Mikio Naruse Posted by vascosta Filed in film No Comments » […]

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