With Beauty and Sadness/Sorrow

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Based on the 1964 novel Beauty and Sadness (Utsukushisa to Kanashimi to) by Kawabata Yasnuari (who would win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1968), Shinoda Masashiro’s 1965 movie adaptation, released in English as “With Beauty and Sorrow”, as well as “With Beauty and Sadness”) lacks the visual flair and the mystery of Shinoda’s “Pale Flower” from the year before. It is very talky and quite predictable.

Keiko (then-22-year-old Kaga Mariko, who had played the thrill-seeking gambler of “Pale Flower”), the beauty of the title, is a man-hating protégé of the now –famous painter Otoko (Yachigusa Kaoru [Samurai Trilogy]). Twenty-four years earlier, the 31-year-old cold-blooded writer Ôki Toshio (Yamamura Sô), who was married and had a son, impregnated the sixteen-year-old Otoko. The baby died soon after birth and Otoko was confined to a psychiatric hospital for six months.

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Ôki wrote a very thinly fictionalized account of his affair with Otoko. Keiko lives in Kyoto with Otoko and vows to take revenge on Ôki. I can’t imagine a viewer doubting that she will, hard as Otoko tries to stop her. Keiko easily seduces Ôki (planning to bear a child to give to Otoko), an,d with only slightly more effort, seduces his son, the graduate student Taichiro (Yamamoto Kei), who fails to heed the warnings of his mother (Sugimura Haruko) that Keiko is a dangerous witch (demon).

The shots were carefully composed (often notably symmetrical) by Kosugi Masao, who also shot “Pale Flower,” etc., but the only ones I particularly like take place in cemeteries. The Takemitsu soundtrack is typically foreboding (and not jazzy like the one he provided for “Pale Flower”, i.e., it sounds like Takemitsu as the music for “Pale Flower” did not).

©2016, Stephen O. Murray

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