Thursday, March 09, 2017

Akira Kurosawa: わが青春に悔なし / 'No Regrets for Our Youth' (1946)

Blend one portion of Jane Austen with two of Fyodor Dostoevsky, season with a little Gone with the Wind. Sit down for a Japanese meal during the Second World War period and voila, you have tasted of  Akira Kurosawa's わが青春に悔なし / No Regrets for Our Youth (1946).  Bon appétit!

Let's look briefly at three aspects of this early post-war film.

1. Love triangle, beginning in 1933. Yukie (played by the astonishing Setsuko Hara) is wooed by Noge and Itokawa (all pictured above).

At one point, Yukie matter-of-factly spells things out for Itokawa:

"If I follow you, my life will be peaceful.  But, if I may say, it'll be boring . . . If I follow [Noge], something dazzling will await me. My life will be stormy . . . It terrifies me and fascinates me."  
2. Family. We learn important things about the connections between Yukie, Noge, Itokawa and their family systems, how they help inform their existential decision-making -- even in rebellion. 

3. Society under pressure. Japanese fascism and nationalism begin to squash socialist and even the most moderate dissent. At first, the students and faculty fight for free speech and against militarism, but eventually, many of the students are absorbed into the war machine and most of the faculty either removed or cowed into silence.

Noge goes to prison and is seemingly rehabilitated by the time of his release, though he still remains, in actuality, a member of the resistance. Itokawa becomes a government prosecutor and is seemingly sympathetic, though in actuality, he has become part of the new status quo. 

Yukie is the character who changes the most, and, existentially, for the better.

No Regrets for Our Youth has additional facets worth exploring -- including fine matters of technique and craft -- but three are enough for one post!

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.  

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

is there a good biography of Kurosawa out? I would like to read more about him.