Keisuke Kinoshita - Director

Nationality: Japanese. Born: Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, 5 December 1912. Education: Hamamatsu Engineering School; Oriental Photography School, Tokyo, 1932–33. Military service, 1940–41. Career: Laboratory assistant, Shochiku's Kamata studios, 1933; camera assistant under chief cinematographer for Yasujiro Shimazu, 1934–36; assistant director, Shimazu's group, 1936–42; chief assistant to director Kozaburo Yoshimura, 1939; director, from 1943; left Shochiku, began as TV director, 1964. Awards: Kinema Jumpo Best Film of the Year, for The Morning of the Osone Family , 1946, 24 Eyes , 1954, and The Ballad of Narayama , 1958. Died: 30 December 1998, in Tokyo, Japan, of stroke.

Films as Director:


Hanasaku minato ( The Blossoming Port ); Ikite-iru Magoroku ( The Living Magoroku ) (+ sc)


Kanko no machi ( Jubilation Street ; Cheering Town ); Rikugun ( The Army )


Osone-ke no asa ( Morning for the Osone Family ); Waga koiseshi otome ( The Girl I Loved ) (+ sc)


Kekkon ( Marriage ) (+ story); Fujicho ( Phoenix ) (+ sc)


Onna ( Woman ) (+ sc); Shozo ( The Portrait ); Hakai ( Apostasy )


Ojosan kanpai ( A Toast to the Young Miss ; Here's to the Girls ); Yotsuya kaidan, I-II ( The Yotsuya Ghost Story, Parts I and II ); Yabure daiko ( Broken Drum ) (+ co-sc)


Konyaku yubiwa ( Engagement Ring ) (+ sc)


Zemma ( The Good Fairy ) (+ co-sc); Karumen kokyo ni kaeru ( Carmen Comes Home ) (+ sc); Shonen ki ( A Record of Youth ) (+ co-sc); Umi no hanabi ( Fireworks over the Sea ) (+ sc)


Karumen junjo su ( Carmen's Pure Love ) (+ sc)


Nihon no higeki ( A Japanese Tragedy ) (+ sc)


Onna no sono ( The Garden of Women ) (+ sc); Nijushi no hitomi ( Twenty-four Eyes ) (+ sc)


Toi kumo ( Distant Clouds ) (+ co-sc); Nogiku no gotoki kimi nariki ( You Were like a Wild Chrysanthemum ) (+ sc)


Yuyake-gumo ( Clouds at Twilight ); Taiyo to bara ( The Rose on His Arm ) (+ sc)


Yorokobi mo kanashimi mo ikutoshitsuki ( Times of Joy and Sorrow ; The Lighthouse ) (+ sc); Fuzen no tomoshibi ( A Candle in the Wind ; Danger Stalks Near ) (+ sc)


Narayama bushi-ko ( The Ballad of the Narayama ) (+ sc); Kono ten no niji ( The Eternal Rainbow ; The Rainbow of This Sky ) (+ sc)


Kazabana ( Snow Flurry ) (+ sc); Sekishun-cho ( The Bird of Springs Past ) (+ sc); Kyo mo mata kakute arinan ( Thus Another Day ) (+ sc)


Haru no yume ( Spring Dreams ) (+ sc); Fuefuki-gawa ( The River Fuefuki ) (+ sc)


Eien no hito ( The Bitter Spirit ; Immortal Love ) (+ sc)


Kotoshi no koi ( This Year's Love ) (+ sc); Futari de aruita iku-haru-aki ( The Seasons We Walked Together ) (+ sc)


Utae, wakodo-tachi ( Sing, Young People! ); Shito no densetsu ( Legend of a Duel to the Death ) (+ sc)


Koge ( The Scent of Incense ) (+ sc)


Natsukashiki fue ya taiko ( Lovely Flute and Drum ) (+ pr, sc)


Suri Lanka no ai to wakare ( Love and Separation in Sri Lanka ) (+ sc)


Shodo satsujin: Musukoyo ( My Son ) (+ sc)


Kono ko o nokoshite ( The Children of Nagasaki ; These Children Survive Me )


Yorokobi mo kanashima mo ikutoshitsuki ( Times of Joy and Sorrow ; Big Joys, Small Sorrows )


By KINOSHITA: articles—

"Jisaku o kataru," [Keisuke Kinoshita Talks about His Films], in Kinema Jumpo (Tokyo), no.115, 1955.

Interview with P. Vecchi, in Cineforum (Bergamo), August 1984.

Interview with A. Tournès, in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), November-December 1986.

On KINOSHITA: books—

Anderson, Joseph, and Donald Richie, The Japanese Film , New York, 1961.

Mellen, Joan, The Waves at Genji's Door , New York, 1976.

Bock, Audie, Japanese Film Directors , Tokyo, 1978.

König, Regula, and Marianne Lewinsky, Keisuke Kinoshita: Entretien, etudes, filmographie, iconographie , Locarno, 1986.

On KINOSHITA: articles—

"Keisuke Kinoshita," in Film Dope (London), September 1984.

Tournès, A., "Terres inconnues du cinéma japonais," in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), October 1984.

Niogret, H., "Keisuke Kinoshita: Un metteur en scène de compagnie," in Positif (Paris), July/August 1986.

National Film Theatre Programme (London), March 1987.

Obituary, by Jon Herskovitz, in Variety (New York), 11 Janu-ary 1999.

* * *

Keisuke Kinoshita's films are characteristic of the Shochiku Studio's work: healthy home drama and melodrama as conventionalized by the studio's two masters, Shimazu and Ozu, who specialized in depicting everyday family life. Kinoshita gravitated toward sentimentalism and a belief in the eventual triumph of good will and sincere efforts. It was against this "planned unity" that the new generation of Shochiku directors (for example, Oshima and his group) reacted.

Kinoshita was skilled in various genres. His light satiric comedies began with his first film, The Blossoming Port. Although ostensibly it illustrated the patriotism of two con men in a small port town, this film demonstrated Kinoshita's extraordinary talent for witty mise-enscène and briskly-paced storytelling. His postwar comedies include Broken Drum, Carmen Comes Home, Carmen's Pure Love and A Candle in the Wind , which captured the liberated spirit of postwar democratization. A Toast to the Young Miss was a kind of situation comedy that became unusually successful due to its excellent cast.

Among Kinoshita's popular romantic melodramas, Marriage and Phoenix surprised audiences with bold and sophisticated expressions of love, helping pioneer the new social morality in Japanese film. You Were like a Wild Chrysanthemum is a romantic, sentimental love story. The sentimental human drama became Kinoshita's most characteristic film. It is typified by 24 Eyes , which deftly appeals to the Japanese audience's sentimentality, depicting the life of a woman teacher on a small island. This was followed by such films as Times of Joy and Sorrow, The Seasons We Walked Together , and Lovely Flute and Drum. The Shochiku Studio was proud that these films could attract "women coming with handkerchiefs to wipe away their tears."

Films of rather straightforward social criticism include Morning for the Osone Family, Apostasy, A Japanese Tragedy, The Garden of Women, The Ballad of the Narayama , and Snow Flurry. These vary from rather crude "postwar democratization" films to films that deal with such topics as the world of folklore, struggles against the feudalistic system, and current social problems. Kinoshita was adventurous in his technical experimentation. Carmen Comes Home is the first Japanese color film and is sophisticated in its use of the new technology. In its sequel, Carmen's Pure Love , he employed tilting compositions throughout the film, producing a wry comic atmosphere. In A Japanese Tragedy , newsreel footage was inserted to connect the historical background with the narrative. You Were like a Wild Chrysanthemum , a film presented as an old man's memory of his youth, creates a nostalgic effect by vignetting with an oval shape and with misty images. The Ballad of the Narayama , except for the last outdoor sequence, takes place on a set that accentuates artificiality and theatricality, with the added effect of a peculiar use of color. Kabuki-style acting, music, and storytelling create the fable-like ambience of this film. The River Fuefuki is entirely tinted in colors that correspond to the sentiment of each scene (e.g., red for fighting, blue for funerals, and green for peaceful village life).

After the Japanese film industry sank into a depression in the 1960s, Kinoshita successfully continued his career in TV for a long period. His skill at entertaining and his sense of experimentation kept him popular with television audiences as well.

—Kyoko Hirano

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