Masahiro Shinoda - Director




Nationality: Japanese. Born: Gifu Prefecture, 9 March 1931. Education: Studied drama and literature at Waseda University, Tokyo, graduated 1952. Family: Married actress Shima Iwashita. Career: Assistant director at Shochiku-Ofuna Studios, from 1953; began as director of "youth" films, 1960; left Shochiku, 1965; directed first film for independent production company Hyogen-sha [Expression Company], Clouds at Sunset , 1967. Address: 1–11-13, Kitasenzoku, Ota-Ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Films as Director:

1960

Koi no katamichi kippu ( One-Way Ticket to Love ) (+ sc); Kawaita mizuumi ( Dry Lake ; Youth in Fury )

1961

Yuhi ni akai ore no kao ( My Face Red in the Sunset ; Killers on Parade ); Waga koi no tabiji ( Epitaph to My Love ) (+ co-sc); Shamisen to otobai ( Love Old and New )

1962

Watakushi-tachi no kekkon ( Our Marriage ) (+ co-sc); Yama no sanka: moyuru wakamono-tachi ( Glory on the Summit: Burning Youth ); Namida o shishi no tategami ni ( Tears on the Lion's Mane ) (+ co-sc)

1963

Kawaita hana ( Pale Flower ) (+ co-sc)

1964

Ansatsu ( Assassination )

1965

Utsukushisa to kanashimi to ( With Beauty and Sorrow ); Ibun sarutobi sasuke ( Samurai Spy ; Sarutobi )

1966

Shokei no shima ( Punishment Island ; Captive's Island )

1967

Akanegumo ( Clouds at Sunset )

1969

Shinju ten no Amijima ( Double Suicide )

1970

Buraikan ( The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan )

1971

Chinmoku ( Silence )

1972

Sapporo Orimpikku ( Sapporo Winter Olympic Games )

1973

Kaseki no mori ( The Petrified Forest )

1974

Himiko

1975

Sakura no mori no mankai no shita ( Under the Cherry Blossoms ) (+ co-sc)

1976

Nihon-maru ( Nihon-maru Ship ) (doc); Sadono kuni ondekoza ( Sado's Ondeko-za ) (doc)

1977

Hanare goze Orin ( The Ballad of Orin ) (+ co-sc)

1979

Yashagaike ( Demon Pond )

1980

Aku Ryoto ( Devil's Island )

1984

Setouchi Shonen Yakyudan ( MacArthur's Children )

1986

Yari no Gonza ( Gonza, the Spearman )

1989

Maihime ( Die Tänzerin; The Dancer )

1990

Shonnenjidai ( Takeshi )

1995

Sharaku

1997

Setouchi munraito serenade ( Moonlight Serenade )



Publications


By SHINODA: articles—

Interview in American Film (New York), May 1985.

" MacArthur's Children ," interview with R. Silberman and K. Hirano in Cineaste (New York), vol. 14, no. 3, 1986.

Interview in Kino (Sophia), no. 5, 1995.


On SHINODA: books—

Sekai no eiga sakka 10: Shinoda Masahiro, Yoshida Yoshishige [Film Directors of the World 10: Masahiro Shinoda and Yoshishige Yoshida], Tokyo, 1971.

Richie, Donald, Japanese Cinema: Film Style and National Character , New York, 1971.

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

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

Bock, Audie, Japanese Film Directors , Tokyo, 1978; revised edition, Tokyo, 1985.


On SHINODA: articles—

Russell, Catherine, "'Overcoming Modernity': Gender and the Pathos of History in Japanese Film Melodrama," in Camera Obscura (Bloomington), May 1995.

McDonald, Keiko I., "Short Story into Action: Shinoda's Mahihime ," in Post Script (Commerce), Summer 1996.


* * *


After his debut with One-Way Ticket to Love in 1960, Masahiro Shinoda (along with Oshima and Yoshida) was termed a "Japanese Nouvelle Vague" director. However, Shinoda's devotion to sensual modernism contrasted with Oshima's direct expression of his political concerns. Shinoda's early films center on the fickle and frivolous entertainment world, petty gangsters, or confused student terrorists, ornamented by pop-art settings and a sensibility which may be largely attributed to his scenario writer, poet Shuji Terayama.

Being an intellectual and ideologue, Shinoda analyzes the fates of his marginal but likable characters with a critical eye on the social and political milieu. Even his work on Shochiku Studio home drama and melodrama projects show his critical views of the social structure.

His indulgent aestheticism, which appears in his films as incomparable sensuality, has been connected with images of death and destruction ( Assassination, With Beauty and Sorrow, Clouds at Sunset, Double Suicide, The Ballad of Orin ) and of degradation ( Silence, The Petrified Forest, Under the Cherry Blossoms ). This stance again contrasts with that of Oshima, whose sexual and political outlook ultimately affirms the value of life and survival. Shinoda's fundamental pessimism, represented by the image of falling cherry blossoms in his films, is rooted in the ephemerality of life.

The stylistic aspect of Shinoda's work originated in his long interest in the Japanese traditional theater. Double Suicide received the highest acclaim for his bold art direction (elaborate calligraphy on the set was done by his cousin, Toko Shinoda), ambitious experimentation as in his use of men dressed in black (recalling traditional Japanese puppeteers) appearing to lead the characters to their destinies, and the double roles of the contrasting and competing heroines, the prostitute and the wife. This black-and-white film presents a most imaginative adaptation of Bunraku, the Japanese puppet play. The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan is an elaborate and colorful adaptation of Kabuki drama, playful in spirit. Himiko recalls the origin of Japanese theater in the primordial Japanese tribe's rituals, making use of avant-garde dancers. The two leading female roles in Demon Pond are played by the popular Kabuki actor Tamasaburo Bando.

Another unique aspect of Shinoda's work is his interest in sports. As an ex-athlete, he was well qualified for the assignment of making the official documentary Sapporo Winter Olympic Games , and a documentary on runners, Sado's Ondeko-za. In these films, he succeeds in conveying in a beautiful visual manner the emotions of athletes in lonely competition.

Shinoda has also played an important role as the head of an independent film production firm, Hyogen-sha, or Expressive Company, since he left Shochiku in 1965. Thus he has pursued his own concerns in choices of subjects and methods of expression, mostly through the adaption of traditional and modern Japanese literary works. He has developed many talented collaborators—actress Shima Iwashita (to whom he is married), music composer Toru Takemitsu, art directors Jusho Toda and Kiyoshi Awazu, and poet Taeko Tomioka, working as his scenario writer.

—Kyoko Hirano

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