Mikio Naruse

“Despite being little-known in the West, Tokyo-born Mikio Naruse was one of the most prolific and accomplished Japanese directors of the twentieth century, chalking up nearly ninety films in four decades… Naruse’s most interesting films were produced during the 1950s, Japanese cinema’s golden era.” - Peter Buckley (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)

Mikio Naruse

Director / Screenwriter / Producer
(1905-1969) Born August 20, Yotsuya, Tokyo, Japan
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: Japan
Key Genres: Drama, Family Drama, Melodrama, Marriage Drama, Psychological Drama, Romantic Drama
Key Collaborators: Satoru Chûko (Production Designer), Ichirô Saitô (Composer), Sanezumi Fujimoto (Producer), Masao Tamai (Cinematographer), Daisuke Katô (Leading Character Actor), Chieko Nakakita (Character Actress), Eiji Ooi (Editor), Hideko Takamine (Leading Actress), Sumie Tanaka (Screenwriter), Toshirô Ide (Screenwriter), Keiju Kobayashi (Leading Character Actor), Kyôko Kagawa (Leading Actress)

“Distinguished Japanese director, though not the equal of Mizoguchi, Ozu, Gosho, Kinoshita, or Kurosawa. His films have a real sense of everyday life, behavior, and feelings and of the family in its social contest - qualities that made Okaasan/Mother his best film… His first films as director were largely comedies and routine melodramas until he established his reputation as a director of Shomin-geki films dealing with the lower-middles classes” - Georges Sadoul (Dictionary of Film Makers, 1972)
“His early films, many from his own screenplays, were typically a blend of slapstick and melodrama. In the 50s, he evolved, reaching his creative peak as a serious, uncompromisingly honest director of frequently pessimistic films that echoed memories of his unhappy youth. They typically dealt with everyday lives of common people and paid special attention to the status of women in Japanese society.” - The Film Encyclopedia, 2012
“Mikio Naruse’s work bridged the cinematic gap between the silent film era, the advent of talkies, and the introduction of color films. His output was prolific, and he became one of the most prominent Japanese filmmakers of his time… His films were marked by a slow pace that allowed his characters to reveal their psychological depth, with subtle gestures revealing their acceptance of the problems of everyday life.” - Erica Sheerin (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
“Naruse began his most creative period in the Fifties with a series of films, including Inazuma, Bangiku (1954) and Ukigumo, based on the feminist writings of Tumiko Hayashi (1904-1951), depicting downtrodden women. For Naruse, the claustrophobic roles women were made to play in Japanese society became a particular expression of his generally pessimistic view of the human condition.” - The Illustrated Who's Who of the Cinema, 1983
“In speaking of his subject, the family, Naruse once said, ‘I am not interested in simple, trite home dramas.’ Rather, he was interested in richly detailed, meticulously honest home dramas, and it was through them that he both accurately reflected a major fact of Japanese life and defined his own pictorial style. In this, like Ozu, Naruse used such constriction to advantage.” - Donald Richie (Cinema: A Critical Dictionary, 1980)
“Neither in his early experimental period nor in the mature postwar films did Naruse achieve a mastery of a specific visual style to merit comparison with the work of Mizoguchi or Ozu. Nevertheless, he commands respect as the architect of subtle and profound realist dramas, distinguished by careful observation and superb acting. His genre is the shomin-geki—the film about the lower middle classes—within which his specialities are the precise delineation of social milieux, of material hardship and practical responsibilities.” - Alexander Jacoby (Senses of Cinema, 2003)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Meshi (1951), Mother (1952), Late Chrysanthemums (1954), Sound of the Mountain (1954), Floating Clouds (1955), When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) , Yearning (1964), Scattered Clouds (1967)
Worth a Look
Three Sisters with Maiden Hearts (1935), The Song Lantern (1943), Lightning (1952), Wife (1953), Flowing (1956), Sudden Rain (1956), Anzukko (1958), Iwashigumo (1958), Drifting (1962)
Approach with Caution
The Girl in the Rumour (1935)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Late Chrysanthemums
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