Jubilation Street (as part of the Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
December 30, 2014 by Dennis Amith
Kinoshita’s “Jubilation Street” features another side of the World War II and focuses on many characters who must relocate as the government wants their property for the war effort. The film also showcases Kinoshita’s experimentation style… Recommended!
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TITLE: Jubilation Street (as part of the Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II)
YEAR OF FILM: 1944
DURATION: 73 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio, Monaural, Japanese with English subtitles
COMPANY: Janus Films/The Criterion Collection
RELEASED: December 16, 2014
Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita
Script by Kaori Morimoto
Music by Sakari Abe
Cinematography by Hiroshi Kusuda
Art Direction by Isamu Motoki
Ken Uehara as Shingo Furukawa
Mitsuko Mito as TakakoChiyo Nobu as Kiyo, Shingo’s Mother
Eijiro Tono as Shingo’s Father
Makoto Kobori as Bathhouse Owner
Choko Iida, Wife of Bathhouse Owner
As World War II escalates, the tight-knit inhabitants of a street in Tokyo must relocate from their homes so the government can use the space. Kinoshita’s sensitive film—beautifully and resourcefully shot—traces the fears and desires of the evacuees.
Before legendary and prolific Japanese filmmaker Keisuke Kinoshita directed the widely acclaimed films “Twenty-Four Eyes”, “Immortal Love”, “The Ballad of Narayama”, to name a few, it took the filmmaker some blood, sweat and tears to become one.
Becoming a fan of cinema at the age of eight and doing all that he could to learn about movies (without university education) and having been drafted into war in 1940, life would change for Kinoshita when he got out of the military and pursued a job at Shochiku. And by 1943, he would get his first big break directing films during World War II. A time when cinema was closely monitored by the government and were to be propagandistic.
While many are enamored by the cinema master who excelled in all genres that he took on, many of Kinoshita’s earlier work has not been seen until now.
“Port of Flowers” (1943), “The Living Magoroku” (1943), “Jubiliation Street” (1944), “Army” (1944) and “Morning for the Osone Family” (1946) will be released by the Criterion Collection as part of its Eclipse Series (#41) DVD set titled “Kinoshita and World War II”.
The third film I will review from the DVD set is “Jubilation Street” (Kanko no Machi).
As “Port of Flowers” was a comedy and “The Living Magoroku” preaching solidarity, “Jubilation Street” focuses on multiple characters who live in a street in which the inhabitants must relocate, as the government intends to use the buildings/homes in the area in preparation of air raids.
You have families or people who lived in the street area and not knowing where their life may be or what they are supposed to do after relocating.
In one storyline, Shingo Furukawa (portrayed by Ken Uehara) is training as a pilot and has had his fair share of close calls. And as he spends his days with his girlfriend Takako, she realizes that the country comes first before their relationship.
Meanwhile, Shingo is unaware that his father who had left his family to find work has returned. But his father is too scared to approach his wife and son.
We see other people affected such as Mr. Zenba, a farmer turned city developer, who now must leave his home and the street that he help build. While he wants to move to the country, his wife Nobuo and his daughter Takako does not want to.
But as the date for relocation is quickly coming, what will happen to these families? Will Shingo return for Takako? Will Shingo’s father find the courage to meet with his family after leaving them for too long?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Jubilation Street” is presented in black and white (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio). Considering the film is 70-years-old, while some frames of the film had suffered damage overtime, and features white/black specks, they are not the type that hurts your viewing of the film. The film is probably one of the better looking films in the “Kinoshita and World War II” DVD set.
The film is presented in Japanese monaural with English subtitles. There is hiss that can be heard throughout the movie.
Eclipse Series releases do not come with special features but included in the insert is a background on Kinoshita and his work on “Jubilation Street”.
As Kinoshita Keisuke continued to make films on the World War II in 1944, “Jubilation Street” is his more ambitious films shot during the war.
From camera experimentation to careful direction with the staff, “Jubilation Street” while having its share of propaganda, is much different compared to “Port of Flowers” and “The Living Magoroku” because of the number of characters featured and trying to convey those who were displaced or forced to move out of their homes.
Similar to “Port of Flowers”, the film saves its solidarity towards the end, as the majority of the film focuses on the relocation effort, but also the romantic drama between Shingo and Takako. But most importantly, showcasing another side of “loss” due to the war (losing your home, losing a love one, etc.) and Kinoshita’s ability to work with talent he was most comfortable with. No one is happy that they are relocating but they all try to find solace with one another.
If you love Japanese cinema, not only is “Jubilation Street” recommended for viewing but the DVD set is worth owning for its wonderful five films featuring Keisuke Kinoshita’s earlier work!
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