Summer 1945, towards the end of the Pacific War: the Sonobe family is living in a remote village in Hokkaido after having been evacuated from Tokyo. The grown-up daughter Kieko is supposed to marry the son of the village chief, Takamori. When Kieko’s brother reveals that Takamori committed barbaric atrocities during his time at the front in China, Keiko rejects Takamori. The local population’s mistrust of the Sonobes continues to grow, spurred on by Takamori himself, who deliberately spreads strife, which finally devolves into a never-ending spiral of violence. The village inhabitants’ desperation regarding Japan’s impending capitulation, the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the loss of eleven men from the village are echoed in the insanity and cold hate that unites almost everyone in the town against the newcomers. The impact of the war on the civilian population is an important theme in Kinoshita’s work, which here takes the form of a Western whose sense of rage is accentuated by means of a suggestive camera and jittery, penetrating music. It is also an oppressive study of an untameable group dynamic, which stands in stark contrast to the idyllic landscape.
by Keisuke Kinoshita
with Shima Iwashita, Mariko Kaga, Go Kato, Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshi Kato, Bunta Sugawara