Tokyo, 1 February 1902.
Keio Commerce School, graduated 1921.
Married three times.
Assistant to director Yasujiro Shimazu, Shochiku-Kamata Studio, 1923;
directed first film,
Nanto no haru
, 1925; moved to Daiei Studio, 1941; returned to Shochiku-Ofuna, 1945,
then to Toho until 1948; established Studio 8 Productions, affiliated with
Shin-Toho, 1951; worked for several studios, from 1954; also writer for
television; president of the Japanese Association of Film Directors,
1964–75; also director of the Japanese Haiku Art Association.
Eleven films placed among Kinema Jumpo Best Films of the Year between
1927 and 1968; Mainichi Film Prize, Japan, for
One More Time
, 1947; Kun Yon-to Asahi Shoju sho Order of the Japanese Government, 1947;
International Peace Prize, Berlin Festival, for
Where Chimneys Are Seen
1 May 1981.
Nanto no haru ( Spring of Southern Island ) (+ sc); Sora wa haretari ( No Clouds in the Sky ); Otokogokoro ( Man's Heart ) (+ sc); Seishun ( Youth ) (+ sc); Tosei tamatebako ( A Casket for Living )
Machi no hitobito ( Town People ); Hatsukoi ( First Love ) (+ sc); Hahayo koishi ( Mother, I Miss You ; Mother's Love ); Honryu ( A Torrent ); Musume ( A Daughter ) (+ sc); Kaeranu sasabue ( Bamboo Leaf Flute of No Return ; No Return ); Itoshi no wagako ( My Loving Child ) (+ sc); Kanojo ( She ; Girl Friend ) (+ sc)
Sabishiki ranbomono ( Lonely Hoodlum ); Hazukashii yume ( Shameful Dream ), Karakuri musume ( Fake Girl ) (+ co-sc); Shojo no shi ( Death of a Maiden ) (+ co-sc); Okame ( A Plain Woman ) (+ sc); Tokyo koshinkyoko ( Tokyo March )
Sukinareba koso ( Because I Love ; If You Like It ) (+ co-sc); Mura no hanayome ( The Village Bride ); Doraku shinan ( Guidance to the Indulgent ; Debauchery Is Wrong ) (+ co-sc); Kami e no michi ( Road to God ); Hito no yo no sugata ( Man's Worldly Appearance ); Kaido no kishi ( Knight of the Street ); Haha yo, kimi no na o kegasu nakare ( Mother, Do Not Shame Your Name )
Yoru no mesuneko ( Cat of the Night ); Shin josei kagami ( A New Kind of Woman ); Oyaji to sono ko ( Father and His Son ); Ukiyo-buro ( The Bath Harem ) (+ sc); Netsujo no ichiya ( A Night of Passion ) (+ co-sc)
Dokushinsha goyojin ( Bachelors Beware ) (+ co-sc); Dai-Tokyo bi ikkaku ( A Corner of Great Tokyo ) (+ add'l dialogue); Hohoemu jinsei ( A Smiling Life ); Onna yo, kini no na o kegasu nakare ( Women, Do Not Shame Your Names ); Shojo nyuyo ( Virgin Wanted ); Kinuyo monogatari ( The Kinuyo Story ); Aiyoku no ki ( Record of Love and Desire )
Jokyu aishi ( Sad Story of a Barmaid ); Yoru hiraku ( Open at Night ); Madamu to nyobo ( Next Door Madame and My Wife ; The Neighbor's Wife and Mine ); Shima to ratai jiken ( Island of Naked Scandal ) (+ add'l dialogue); Gutei kenkei ( Stupid Young Brother and Wise Old Brother ) (+ add'l dialogue); Wakaki hi no kangeki ( Memories of Young Days )
Niisan no baka ( My Stupid Brother ) Ginza no yanagi ( Willows of Ginza ); Tengoku ni musubu koi ( Heaven Linked with Love ); Satsueijo romansu: Renai annai ( Romance at the Studio: Guidance to Love ); Hototogisu ( A Cuckoo ); Koi no Tokyo ( Love in Tokyo )
Hanayome no negoto ( The Bride Talks in Her Sleep ); Izu no odoriko ( Dancer of Izu ); Jukyu-sai no haru ( The Nineteenth Spring ); Shojo yo sayonara ( Virgin, Goodbye ); Lamuru ( L'Amour )
Onna to umaretakaranya ( Now That I Was Born a Woman ); Sakura Ondo ( Sakura Dance ); Ikitoshi Ikerumono ( Everything That Lives )
Hanamuko no negoto ( The Bridegroom Talks in His Sleep ); Hidari uchiwa ( A Life of Luxury ); Fukeyo koikaze ( Breezes of Love ); Akogare ( Yearning ); Jinsei no onimotsu ( Burden of Life )
Oboro yo no onna ( Woman of Pale Night ); Shindo ( New Way ) parts I and II; Okusama shakuyosho ( A Married Lady Borrows Money )
Hanakago no uta ( Song of the Flower Basket ) (+ adapt)
Mokuseki ( Wood and Stone )
Shinsetsu ( New Snow )
Goju-no to ( The Five-storied Pagoda )
Izu no musumetachi ( Girls of Izu )
Ima hitotabi no ( One More Time )
Omokage ( A Vestige )
Wakare-gumo ( Drifting Clouds ) (+ co-sc)
Asa no hamon ( Trouble in the Morning )
Entotsu no mieru basho ( Four Chimneys ; Where Chimneys Are Seen )
Osaka no yado ( An Inn at Osaka ) (+ co-sc); Niwatori wa futatabi naku ( The Cock Crows Twice ); Ai to shi no tanima ( The Valley between Love and Death )
Takekurabe ( Growing Up )
Aruyo futatabi ( Again One Night ) (+ co-sc)
Kiiroi karasu ( Yellow Crow ; Behold Thy Son ); Banka ( Elegy of the North )
Hotaru-bi ( Firefly's Light ); Yoku ( Desire ); Ari no Machi no Maria ( Maria of the Street of Ants )
Karatachi nikki ( Journal of the Orange Flower )
Waga ai ( When a Woman Loves ); Shiroi kiba ( White Fangs )
Ryoju ( Hunting Rifle ); Kumo ga chigireru toki ( As the Clouds Scatter ) (+ co-pr); Aijo no keifu ( Record of Love ) (+ co-pr)
Kachan kekkon shiroyo ( Mother, Get Married ) (+ co-sc)
Hyakumanin no musumetachi ( A Million Girls ) (+ co-sc)
Osore-zan no onna ( A Woman of the Osore Mountains ; An Innocent Witch )
Kachan to Juichi-nin no Kodomo ( Mother and Eleven Children ; Our Wonderful Years )
Utage ( Feast ; Rebellion in Japan )
Onna no misoshiru ( Women and Miso Soup ); Meiji haruaki ( Seasons of Meiji )
Anderson, Joseph, and Donald Richie, The Japanese Film , New York, 1961; revised edition, 1982.
Mellen, Joan, The Waves at Genji's Door , New York, 1976.
Bock, Audie, Japanese Film Directors , New York, 1978; revised edition, Tokyo, 1985.
Anderson, J.L., and Donald Richie, "The Films of Heinosuke Gosho," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1956.
Gillett, John, "Coca-Cola and the Golden Pavilion," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1970.
Gillett, John, "Heinosuke Gosho," in Film Dope (London), April 1980.
Tessier, Max, "Heinosuke Gosho," in Image et Son (Paris), June 1981.
"Heinosuke Gosho: A Pattern of Living," in National Film Theatre Booklet (London), March 1986.
Le Fanu, Mark, "To Love Is to Suffer," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1986.
Niogret, H., "Heinosuke Gosho et la maîtrise du découpage," in Positif (Paris), March 1987.
Johnson, W., "The Splitting Image," in Film Comment (New York), vol. 27, January-February 1991.
* * *
Heinosuke Gosho began his career in 1925 as a disciple of Yasujiro Shimazu at Shochiku Studio. Young Gosho immediately proved his skill at the genre of "shomin-geki," stories of the life of ordinary people, characteristic of his mentor's work at that studio. Gosho's early films were criticized as "unsound" because they often involved characters physically or mentally handicapped ( The Village Bride and Faked Daughter ). Gosho's intention, however, was to illustrate a kind of warm and sincere relationship born in pathos. Today, these films are highly esteemed for their critique of feudalistic village life. Gosho was affected by this early criticism, however, and made his next films about other subjects. This led him into a long creative slump, although he continued to make five to seven films annually.
The first film by Gosho to attract attention was Lonely Hoodlum of 1927, a depiction of the bittersweet life of common people, Gosho's characteristic subject. In 1931 Shochiku gave him the challenge of making the first Japanese "talkie" (because many established directors had refused). The film, Next Door Madame and My Wife , was welcomed passionately by both audiences and critics. It is a light and clever comedy that effectively uses ambient sounds such as a baby's cries, an alarm clock, a street vendor's voice, and jazz music from next door. Because every sound had to be synchronized, Gosho explored many technical devices, and used multiple cameras, different lenses, and frequent cuts to produce a truly "filmic" result.
Gosho preferred many cuts and close-up shots, a practice he related to his studying Lubitsch carefully in his youth. Gosho's technique of creating a poetic atmosphere with editing is most successful in Dancer of Izu , in which he intentionally chose the silent film form after making several successful talkies.
Even after the success of these films, Gosho had to accept many projects which he did not want to do. He later reflected that only those films that he really wanted to do were well-made. For example, he found the subject of The Living most appealing—its protagonist tries to protest against social injustice but is unable to continue his struggle to the end.
Gosho is believed to be at his best making films depicting the human side of life in his native Tokyo ( Woman of Pale Night, Song of the Flower Basket, Where Chimneys Are Seen , and Comparison of Heights ). However, the director also worked in many other genres, including romantic melodrama, family drama, light comedy, and social drama. He further extended his range in such films as An Elegy , a contemporary love story, and A Woman of Osore-zan , which is unusual for its unfamiliar dark tones and its eccentricity. His experimental spirit is illustrated by his story of the treatment of a disturbed child with color-oriented visual therapy in Yellow Crow. Throughout his career, Gosho expressed his basic belief in humanistic values. The warm, subtle, and sentimental depiction of likable people is characteristic both of Gosho's major studio productions and his own independent films.