Saturday, March 03, 2018

Trampled Springtime

Bulletin Board System Nikkatsu

(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.)


There's high and low camera angles, juvenile delinquency even if approached like F-Troop, transposed though to cool, and the general spectacularization of violence. This is Suzuki in his very early years, setting himself apart from the other directors at the Nikkatsu studio not only by the audacity of implementing the shooting-script but by the suppleness and originality of his mise-en-scène that makes every shot come to life. Call to arms among rival gangs. Nobody knows this movie as Trampled Springtime: that's my translation of the original Japanese title, Fumi hazushita hara [1958], which has also been translated as The Spring That Didn't Come and, poorly as it's not even a translation, The Boy Who Came Back.

AIDE-MÉMOIRE: Keiko (Sachiko Hidari) is a newly recruited case-officer (on an extracurricular basis!) taking on her first file to assist in reforming Nobuo Kasahara (Akira Kobayashi, Nikkatsu's mega-pated, non-syncopated Jerry). The story that ensues recalls Sirk's Shockproof, with major differences.

Nobuo "throttled his dad with a necktie and induced a mass escape" from his previous reformatory, although if the images beneath the opening credits are anything to go on, this isn't quite the situation. He's got a girl named Kazue (Ruriko Asaoka), she the source of his trouble because Kajita (Jô Shishido) planted his lips on her and Nobuo went apeshit. Now free after a grueling five months or whatever, Nobuo will be guided to and fro Kazue, a schoolteacher with as gentle a demeanor as the reformist. But the bad seeds are lingering around Nobuo once again and Kajita's beer-glass is glinting in the sun.

Keiko wants Nobuo (who affectionately calls her "nee-chan" or "sister") to take up a job at his mother's workplace — she's the janitor, widow to an abusive husband... Nobuo summarily rejects the offer. He fights two of the officemates drunk at a bar. Unusual eyelines in the shots leading up to the violence. Keiko's the co-dependent angel: "I'll come up with some way to save him."

And maybe she — or rather Kazue — does, by furnishing Nobuo with the art supplies he's needed to long to make a go of a career, entryway street-caricaturist. Kazue gets duped into entering a bar where in a backroom Kajita and company attempt to chloroform and gang-rape her: a cop present gets suspicious at the comings-and-goings to the room and bursts through to break it up, upon which the gang absconds only to beat hell, an hour or so later, out of Nobuo returning with his drawing supplies in the Tokyo rain. He gets brought in for questioning and Keiko helps him beat the rap (the gang's pinning on Nobuo the chloroform-rape of Kazue — which it turns out was prevented in the nick of time). A strolling designer found his hand-painted necktie in a puddle and wants to offer him a job. Kazue and he meet up as Keiko looks on from a distance. FIN DE L'AIDE-MÉMOIRE •


More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:

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]


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