“The Young Rebels” is a romantic title for Kinoshita’s 1980 pseudo-documentary about juvenile delinquents. The Japanese title (“Chichi yo haha yo!”, however, means “Father! Mother!” The case studies assembled around Japan by a journalist (Katô Gô, the liberal law professor from “My Son! My Son!“) include some in which at a younger age the boys may have cried out for a parent, but those living with parents at the time of their antisocial behavior loathed their parents. The journalist blames parental neglect or parental overprotection, to parental conduct of one sort or another for their children’s misdeeds, though most of them (whether affluent or lumpenproletarian) have siblings who did not act out, so I find the proffered explanation unconvincing. There is, nonetheless, quite a lot of alcohol abuse by the parents.
The voiceover narration in the early stories (by Katô) is very overbearing and pretentious.
I thought that I might make it through a Kinoshita movie without anyone singing a folk song, but eventually one came. I liked the travelogue parts of the movie and the shots of trains (interior and exterior), some of which were gratuitous. And the director’s brother Chûji did not endlessly recycle some western standard (a welcome relief after “My Son! My Son!” and other, earlier Kinoshita movies!)
Wakayama Tomisaburô returned (from his multiple award-winning turn in “My Son! My Son”) as a sensitive elder, this time as Senjo Asakawa,the head of a reform school he stayed in touch with its graduates and tried to help them live normal lives. And Kinoshita regular Tamura Takahiro was also on hand as one of the fathers of one of the delinquents. (He was nominated for a Japanese Academy Award for best supporting actor.)
The movie (like “My Son! My Son”) overran two hours (132 minutes) and I thought some episodes could have been cut in this sprawling and inchoate docudrama. Kosugi Masao provided adequate color cinematography (Kinoshita’s brother-in-law and longtime cinematographer, Kusuda Hiroshi, having retired in 1968, when Kinoshita also seemed to have, not directing any movies for eight years, followed by another one after three—after directing 40 between 1946 and 1964.) It was the last movie edited by Sugihara Yoshi, who had edited many (at least 32) Kinoshita movies, going back to “Morning for the Osone Family” in 1946, as well as Kurosawa’s “Stray Dog,” Shinoda’s “Samurai Spy,”and Teshigahara’s “Face of Another.”
©2016, Stephen O. Murray