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.)


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.


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 / The Badboy, 1963]

Akutarō-den: Warui hoshi no shita demo [Stories of Bastards: Even Under a Bad Star / Stories of Badboys: Even Under a Bad Star, 1965]


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