“The Girl I Loved” (Waga koi seshi otome, 1946) is arguably the first Kinoshita Keisuke as auteur film: the first he both wrote and directed, the first with a soundtrack by his brother Chûji, and one with lots of singing (plus a lengthy solo violin performance of Schubert’s “Ava Maria”). It was very beautifully shot by Kinoshita’s brother-in-law, Kusuda Hiroshi.
Lovely to look at, but with a very hackneyed storyline: ye older A loves B who loves C; A recognizes that and never tells B he loves her. A is Jingo (the very handsome Hara Yasumi who would play the lead role un Naruse’s “Angry Street”), B is Yoshiko (pretty Igawa Kuniko, who would appear in eight subsequent Kinoshita films) who was left on the doorstep of Jingo’s mother (the redoubtable Higashiyama Chieko) en route to killing herself., C is the crippled veteran who was then evacuated to the countryside, Mr. Noda (Soneda Junji [no other film credits]).
s would be predicted by the Westermarck explanation for the incest taboo (children raised together during their first years of life are sexually repelled by rather than attracted to each other), Yoshiko loves Jingo as a brother. He was 5+ when she was deposited at the entrance to the farmhouse, so grew up with Yoshiko only from later childhood.
Jingo’s younger brother, Jiro, realizes Jingo loves Yoshiko and feels sorry for him, but Jingo insists on accepting the choice of spouse Yoshiko has made (without even considering him in the running) and sacrifices his own love for her happiness.
Many of the beautiful compositions, especially the contemplation of clouds and the closeups, in the film brought Eistenstein’s “Que Viva México” to my mind, though the martyr is singular and is not trampled by the horses (the ranch has many horses). But he is photographed at least somewhat fetishistically. The harshness of life in Japan a year after its defeat (with atomic bombs dropped on two civilian targets) is nowhere in evidence, though both Kingo and Noda were in the military on the losing side. Noda is physically maimed, but neither evidences any PTSD. Both revel in the beauty of the countryside (to which Jingo is native, and which is relatively new to Noda).
As often in Kinoshita movies, the slavering of sentimental music on the soundtrack amplifies the sentimentality of the movie as a whole.
©2016, Stephen O. Murray