Kaneto Shindo - Director

Nationality: Japanese. Born: Hiroshima Prefecture, 28 April 1912. Family: Married first wife, 1939 (died 1940); second wife (divorced late 1940s); actress Nobuko Otowa. Career: Joined art section of Shinko-Kinema Tokyo Studio, 1928; moved to scenario department, 1939; moved to Koa Film, from 1942 (absorbed by Shochiku-Ofuna Studio, 1943); with director Kosaburo Yoshimura, left Shochiku to form independent production company Kindai Eiga Kyokai, with producer Hisao Itoya, director Tengo Yamada, and actor Taiji Tonoyama, 1950; directed first film, 1951; became president of Japanese Association of Scenario Writers, 1972. Awards: Grand Prix, Moscow Festival, for Naked Island , 1960; Asahi Prize, Japan, for activities in independent film production, 1975. Address: 4–8-6 Zushi, Zushi-City, Kanagawa, Japan.

Films as Director:


Aisai monogatari ( Story of My Loving Wife ) (+ sc)


Nadare ( Avalanche ) (+ sc); Genbakuno-ko ( Children of the Atomic Bomb ) (+ sc)


Shukuzu ( Epitome ) (+ sc); A Life of a Woman (+ sc)


Dobu ( Gutter ) (+ co-sc)


Ookami ( Wolves ) (+ sc)


Gin-Shinju ( Silver Double Suicide ) (+ sc); Ruri no kishi ( Bank of Departure ) (+ sc); Joyu ( An Actress ) (+ sc)


Umi no yarodomo ( Guys of the Sea ) (+ sc)


Kanashimi wa onna dakeni ( Sorrow Is Only for Women ) (+ sc)


Dai go fukuryu-maru (+ co-sc); Hanayome san wa sekai-ichi ( The World's Best Bride ) (+ sc); Rakugaki kokuban ( Graffiti Blackboard ) (+ sc)


Hadaka no shima ( Naked Island ; The Island ) (+ sc)


Ningen ( Human Being ) (+ sc)


Haha ( Mother ) (+ sc)


Onibaba (+ sc)


Akuto ( A Scoundrel ) (+ sc)


Honno ( Instinct ) (+ sc); Totsuseki iseki ( Monument of Totsuseki ) (+ sc); Tateshina no shiki ( Four Seasons of Tateshina ) (+ sc)


Sei no kigen ( Origin of Sex ) (+ sc)


Yabu no naka no kuroneko ( A Black Cat in the Bush ) (+ sc); Tsuyomushi onna (&) yawamushi otoko ( Strong Woman and Weak Man ) (+ sc)


Kagero ( Heat Haze ) (+ co-sc)


Shokkaku ( Tentacles ) (+ sc); Hadaka no jukyu-sai ( Naked Nineteen-year-old ) (+ co-sc)


Kanawa ( Iron Ring ) (+ sc); Sanka ( A Paean ) (+ sc)


Kokoro ( Heart ) (+ sc)


Waga michi ( My Way ) (+ sc)


Aru eiga-kantoku no shogai: Mizoguchi Kenji no kiroku ( Life of a Film Director: Record of Kenji Mizoguchi ) (doc) (+ sc)


Chikuzan hitori-tabi ( Life of Chikuzan ) (+ sc)


Hokusai manga ( Hokusai, Ukiyoe Master ) (+ sc)


Chiheisen ( The Horizon )


A Deciduous Tree


Sakur Tai 8–6


Bokuto Kidan ( The Strange Story of Oyuki ) (+ sc)


Gogo no Yuigon-jo (+ sc)

Other Films:

(partial list: has written over 200 scripts)


Nanshin josei ( South Advancing Women ) (Ochiai) (sc)


Machiboke no onna ( Woman Who Is Waiting ) (Makino) (sc); Josei no shori ( The Victory of Women ) (Mizoguchi) (sc)


Anjo-ke no butokai ( The Ball of the Anjo Family ) (Yoshimura) (sc)


Yuwaku ( Seduction ) (Yoshimura) (sc); Waga shogai no kagayakeru hi ( My Life's Bright Day ) (Yoshimura) (sc)


Waga koi wa moenu ( My Love Burns ) (Mizoguchi) (co-sc); Shitto ( Jealousy ) (Yoshimura) (sc); Mori no Ishimatsu ( Ishimatsu of Mori ) (Yoshimura) (sc); Ojosan kanpai ( Toast to a Young Miss ) (Kinoshita) (sc)


Itsuwareru seiso ( Deceiving Costume ) (Yoshimura) (sc); Genji monogatari ( Tale of Genji ) (Yoshimura) (sc)


Bijo to kairyu ( The Beauty and the Dragon ) (Yoshimura) (sc)


Hadaka no taiyo ( Naked Sun ) (Ieki) (sc); Yoru no tsuzumi ( Night Drum ) (Imai) (co-sc)


Shitoyakana kemono ( Soft Beast ) (Kawashima) (sc)


Kizudarake no sanga ( Mountains and Rivers with Scars ) (Yamamoto) (sc)


Hanaoko Seishu no tsuma ( Seishu Hanaoka's Wife ) (Masumura)


Gunki hatameku shitani ( Under the Military Flag ) (Fukasaku) (sc)


Eiga Joyu (sc)


Hachi-Ko (sc)


Tooki Rakujitsu (Kôyama) (co-sc)


Miyazawa Kenji sono ai (Kôyama) (sc)


By SHINDO: books—

Seishun no monokuromu , Tokyo, 1988.

Shigotoshi retsuden , Tokyo, 1991.

Nagai futari no michi: Otowa Nobuko to tomo ni , Tokyo, 1996.

By SHINDO: article—

Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), December 1995.

On SHINDO: books—

Mellen, Joan, Voices from the Japanese Cinema , New York, 1975.

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

Anderson, Joseph, and Donald Richie, The Japanese Film , expanded edition, Princeton, 1982.

On SHINDO: article—

"Kaneto Shindo," in CinemAction! (Toronto), January 1992.

* * *

Kaneto Shindo began his career in film as a scenario writer. An episode portraying his study of scenario writing, under the perfectionist director Kenji Mizoguchi, is included in his own first film as a director, Story of My Loving Wife. The rigorous influence of his mentor on Shindo's style is seen in both his scenarios and his direction. Such persistent influence, by one director on another, on mise-en-scène and writing, is rarely found in the work of other filmmakers.

Shindo became a very successful scenario writer mainly for Kosaburo Yoshimura's films at Shochiku. However, after this team was subjected to commercial pressure from the studio, they left to produce their own films, establishing Kindai Eiga Kyokai, or the Society of Modern Film. Thus, they have been able to pursue their own interests and concerns in choosing subjects and styles.

Shindo, a Hiroshima native, frequently deals with the effects of the atomic bomb. He traced Hiroshima's aftermath, in Children of the Atomic Bomb , based on the compositions of Hiroshima children. This subject could be treated only after the American Occupation ended. Mother focuses on a surviving woman's decision to become a mother after much mental and physical trauma. Instinct deals with a middle-aged survivor whose sexual potency is revived by the love of a woman. Dai go fukuryu-maru is about the tragedy of the fishermen heavily exposed to nuclear fallout after American testing in the South Pacific. Shindo condemns nuclear weapons for causing such misery to innocent people, but also strongly affirms the survivor's will to live.

Shindo's best-known film internationally, Naked Island , is experimental in not using any dialogue but only music. It also uses local people except for a professional actor and actress who play a couple living on a small island. We are impressed with the hardship of their farming life as well as with the beauty of their natural surroundings throughout the cycle of the seasons. The joy, sorrow, anger, and desperation of the hardworking couple is silently but powerfully expressed in a semi-documentary manner.

The peaceful atmosphere of this film is in contrast to many of Shindo's more obsessive works, such as Epitome, Gutter, Sorrow Is Only for Women, Onibaba , and A Scoundrel. These convey a claustrophobic intensity by using only a few small settings for the action, with much close-up camera work.

In 1975, Shindo expressed his lifelong homage to his mentor, Mizoguchi, in a unique documentary: The Life of a Film Director: Record of Kenji Mizoguchi. In this film, he brought together many interesting and honest accounts of Mizoguchi by interviewing people who had worked for this master. These personal recollections, along with sequences from Mizoguchi's films, are a testimony to the greatness of Mizoguchi's art, and to his intriguing personality.

Like Mizoguchi, Shindo creates many strong female figures who, by virtue of their love and the power of their will, try to "save" their male counterparts. While Mizoguchi's women seem to rely more on their generous compassion to sustain their men, Shindo's women tend to inspire and motivate their men by their own energy and power. In much the same way, Shindo's own energy and perseverance have supported his artistic vision through four decades of independent filmmaking.

—Kyoko Hirano

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: