NOTE: Only FORGET LOVE FOR NOW from this season will be screened. It will be screened during the Cocteau program. The remainder of the Shimizu season has been postponed due to COVID restrictions in 2021.
Making his directorial debut in 1924 at the age of 21, Hiroshi Shimizu (1903–1966) went on to make over 160 films in a career contemporaneous with widely acknowledged masters Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi, in whose critical shadows he often, undeservedly, resided.
The warmth and lightness of his work has always been highly praised but, as Alexander Jacoby notes, he shares with Jean Renoir the double-edged nature of such plaudits: “Those few critics who have written about Shimizu’s work tend to make him sound less interesting than he is.” Chris Fujiwara notes several key recurrent elements in the director’s work, including a resistance to plotting, anarchy and unpredictability, “the expressive possibilities of camera movement” and the subversion of the couple. Shimizu’s world is one where the actions of the individual character defines them. He is also often overtly condemnatory of restrictive social structures and institutional norms. His films repeatedly focus on those excluded from mainstream society – “fallen women”, itinerant workers, those with disabilities or children. But, despite his concern with serious subject matter, Shimizu always retained an open approach to filmmaking. David Bordwell describes how he wrote only vague screenplays, making up new dialogue as required, and “rarely budged from his chair on set, even when the camera was moving”.
This season of rarely screened 35mm prints, focusing on films from the golden period of 1930s Japanese cinema, reveals a filmmaker of generosity and casual precision. Working with a roster of Shochiku’s finest contracted actors, including Kinuyo Tanaka, Shin Saburi and Chishu Ryu, Shimizu created a body of work that deserves to be regarded as among the best cinema of its era.
Presented with support from
6:30pm FORGET LOVE FOR NOW
Hiroshi Shimizu (1937) 73 mins – Unclassified 15+
NOTE: This screening is a season preview only, included as part of the Cocteau season.
Drawing upon recurring themes that mark much of his work, Shimizu again focuses his lens on the lives of unhappy children and women, particularly mothers, burdened by societal restrictions, prejudices and straitened economic circumstances. In a film reminiscent of specific Ozu movies of the 1930s like I Was Born, But… Shimizu explores the tragic implications of a dignified single mother forced to become a bar hostess and the devastating impact this has on the life of her son.
35mm print courtesy of the Japan Foundation.
Adrift in the Shadows of Fog: Forget Love for Now by Rolland Man