Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass



Variety Show



(All images are details from iPhone photos taken of the film playing from the Arrow Blu-ray as included in the boxset Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years: Vol. 1: Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies.)

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It takes Shintarō (Kōji Wada), an economics student on sabbatical passing through a mountain village, to get the Imai Kinyō Traveling Magic Show's mojo back on track. The drifter-savior, if only there ultimately to inspire Misako Imai (Mayumi Shimizu) to follow her dream of resigning from the troupe and moving to Tokyo. A dream she'll abandon at the film's end! Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass [Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze, 1961 — somewhere along the line it got aka'd The Wind-of-Youth Group Crosses the Mountain] abounds with frustrated dreams, the funniest being the yakuza prohibited from killing his mark, and troupe leader Kinyō himself (Shin Morikawa) botching his projected showstopper during practice and drowning in a submerged trunk. Escape for Tokyo, escape à la Houdini, even in the case of the yakuza's mark escape through the honor of death — in the end, there's no escape at all.

A neglected treasure in Suzuki's career, Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass examines the underlying absurdity of entertaining audiences with cheap spectacle, whether that be a third-rate magic-and-striptease production, or the barking at fairground passers-by to take a chance on discounted ladies' bloomers. Like the Imai ensemble itself, Youthful Wind, and Suzuki, are caught in a transitional time bound up with tricks and strippers, mercenary promoters and gangster associates. It was this filmmaker's charge to satisfy his audience, that of the Japanese cinema of '61.


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More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:


Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty, 1958]

Fumi hazushita hara [Trampled Springtime, 1958]

Kage naki koe [Voice Without a Shadow, 1958]

"Jûsan-gô taihisen," yori: Sono gosôsha (w)o nerae ["Sidetrack No. Thirteen," or: Take Aim at That Police Van, 1960]

Subete ga kurutteru [Everything Goes Wrong, 1960]

Tōge (w)o wataru wakai kaze [Youthful Wind Crossing the Mountain Pass, 1961]

High-teen yakuza [Late-Teen Yakuza, 1962]

Yajû no seishun [Youth of the Beast, 1963]

Akutarō [The Bastard, or The Badboy, 1963]

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