Berlinale: Programme

Film file


Nasake no hikari

Light of Compassion

Das Licht des Herzens

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Junichi lives in the slums. His father died in prison; his mother is sick and bedridden. She scrimps and saves to put rice in Junichi’s mouth; he in turn, out of love for his mother, prefers to go without what little food there is. The young man sells flowers in the streets in the morning, and newspapers in the city in the afternoon. He is an outsider at school. When he stands up for Shigeko, a girl at school, the other boys beat him up. After she witnesses the boys tease Junichi again, she tells her father about it. Shigeko’s father then invites the boy and his mother to his home, and takes steps to help them out of poverty … The film is a drama of social struggle that was commissioned by the ministry of education, science and culture. Director Henry Kotani (AKA Kuraichi or Soichi Kotani) has put to good use what he learned ten years before at the side of Alvin Wyckoff and Cecil B. DeMille (THE CHEAT, 1915). This is particularly evident in the sequence recapping Junichi’s father stealing, being sentenced, and in prison, in which the classic ‘Rembrandt’ lighting leaves part of the face in shadow, whereas in the film’s final shot, the ‘light of compassion’ streams down effusively from the bright sky over the boy and his mother.

Japan 1926, 62 min


Henry Kotani


Koji Iwasaki
Yachiyo Sizuka
Tomu Uchida