Young Rikiya finds himself drawn to Tokyo’s entertainment district, Yoshiwara. He has taken a particular shine to beautiful Oume. But when he presents her with the gift of a kimono, her ‘protectors’ beat him up, humiliate him, and finally blind him. After raising his dagger against one of his adversaries, he believes he has murdered the man. He flees to his sister, and she then becomes the object of blackmail by a neighbor. She defends herself against her tormentor’s advances by herself taking a knife in the hand … In 1929, JUJIRO was the first Japanese film to reach Germany, where it was shown to critical acclaim. Teinosuke Kinugasa sets Yoshiwara’s sea of light, made up of bright games of chance and paper lanterns, in stark contrast to the dark alleyways of the residential quarter. The director was a great admirer of F.W. Murnau. He saw Murnau’s Der letzte Mann (The Last Laugh, 1924) five times and said he could remember every shot in it. The counterpart to Karl Freund’s ‘unchained’ camera in the German film is here an ‘unchained’ montage of garish lighting effects that pass before Rikiya’s crazed, hallucinatory eyes after he regains his eyesight.
by Teinosuke Kinugasa
with Akiko Chihaya, Junosuke Bando, Yukiko Ogawa
Japan 1928 87’