Tuesday, March 28, 2023


 Toyoko Has Gone to School

The title Zigeunerweisen is German, and translates to something like "Gypsy Airs." Instagram would not allow me to post two images from the film not out of 'image problems,' but presumably because their staffgorithm prohibits any caption that translates the term "Gypsy" — which is news to me. Would "Roma" or "Romany" suffice, rugged switch of syllables...? In 1980-film-space at that, — when Zigeunerweisen, beautiful film, was so carefully crafted by Seijun Suzuki? — Overlords ignored, here marks for me the beginning of Suzuki's greatest period: the late period of five features, 1980 to 2005, when the bulk of the Japanese film industry was withering in spite of its not-so-best efforts... We learn that Zigeunerweisen placed ahead on the 1980 Kinema junpō poll of Akira Kurosawa's fabulous Kagemusha, to take the number one spot...

The title Zigeunerweisen is German, and was so applied by Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate to his own Zigeunerweisen, a recording from 1904 which figures into Suzuki's film. Sarasate's very voice is heard giving inaudible (on the recording) instructions to his orchestra: a murmur of seemingly no import in retrospect, ghost-murmurings given up to the stage. Tony Rayns was subject to an interview on the Arrow Blu-ray and likened the title of Suzuki's film to a "MacGuffin," which seems to me to be rather out-of-range... the Gypsy (or, if you will, gypsy) airs of the Sarasate piece's title permeate the narrative jackknives of Suzuki's plot such as it is — a German professor ("Aochi" — Toshiya Fujita) and a scurrilous left-eye-forelocked bandit ("Nakasago" — Yoshio Harada) have some kind of dispute over a geisha and a wife played by the same woman, but the gypsy airs in all audibility are dampened. Nevertheless, one eye blinded by his forelock, Nakasago "wandered around like a Gypsy..."

You can spill shrimp on the floor; you can use an earthen tunnel; wash your hands in Gordon's Dry Gin at a bar... and recede to a Western style home...

Near the end of Zigeunerweisen someone says: "Let it run and start."


More writing at Cinemasparagus on the films of Seijun Suzuki:

8-jikan no kyōfu [8 Hours' Terror, 1957]

Ankokugai no bijo [Underworld Beauty, 1958]

Fumi hazushita hara [Trampled Springtime, 1958]


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