Thursday, February 14, 2008

RIP Kon Ichikawa

The last of the "Golden Age" Japanese filmmakers (the generation that included Akira Kurosawa) has passed away at age 92. The longer he worked-his last film came out in 2006--the more critics wished he wouldn't, finding him old hat and past his time. Well, I'd like to know what they'll be up to at age 90, and doubt they'll leave behind works as fine as The Burmese Harp and Tokyo Olympiad. Not to mention the great Fires on the Plain, based on one of the best books I read in college, and an adaptation (from 1959) that eluded me till only recently. Criterion has it on DVD and I urge you to check it out; its depiction of wartime survival is once seen, never forgotten.

"Perhaps Ichikawa proves how many differences of understanding separate us from Japanese cinema," wrote David Thomson. His death certainly reminds us of what a great movement in world cinema he and his peers represented.

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