Kon Ichikawa (1915-2008) ranks as one of the most significant and prolific filmmakers in the history of Japanese cinema, having directed over 80 films during his long career. Known for his eclecticism and technical brilliance, Ichikawa was able to work masterfully across a wide range of genres, moods and styles, led by his strong eye for composition and deep understanding of cinematic language.
In anticipation of his 100th birthday in November, Japan Society presents Kon Ichikawa Restorations, featuring the U.S. premiere of 4k restorations of three Ichikawa masterpieces in 35mm. The series begins Friday, October 16, with Ichikawa’s personal favorite Conflagration (1958) and continues Friday, October 17, with the award winning Her Brother (1960) and An Actor’s Revenge (1963), his spectacular remake of the 1935 classic. Both Conflagration and Her Brother are unavailable on DVD in the U.S., and all three films are not often screened in repertory circuits.
"Ichikawa is regarded as one of the greats of Japanese cinema, but doesn’t often get the same attention and praise as Kurosawa, Ozu or Mizoguchi," says Aiko Masubuchi, Japan Society Film Program Officer. "These restorations shed new light onto lesser-seen yet significant Ichikawa films, allowing cinema lovers an opportunity to re-evaluate his greatness and newly appreciate his masterworks in the 21st Century."
Undertaken by Kadokawa Corporation, the recently struck 35 mm prints of these restorations had their World Premiere at the 65th Berlinale in February 2015. "We are happy to highlight the efforts being made to preserve Japanese cinema history by studios, archives and production companies. These restorations from Kadokawa Corp. are a prime example," says Masubuchi.
Ichikawa’s last major retrospective was in 2001, organized by James Quandt of Cinematheque Ontario, who wrote: "Ichikawa is an artist with an astounding command of many genres, forms and tones, from ferociously humanist war films to sophisticated social satires, formalist documentaries (the acclaimed Tokyo Olympiad) to extravagant period pieces (An Actor’s Revenge). He is both the 'deadpan sophisticate' whom Pauline Kael prized, with his elegant compositional style, venomous wit, and tonal daring, and a crafty master of populist entertainments." In 2014, Ichikawa made headlines when one of his early animations was discovered, becoming Japan's oldest surviving animation.
I've watched DVD screeners graciously provided by Japan Society of the three 4k restorations and they looked very, very good. At this time, I can only imagine how magnificent the films will be in 35mm. Look for reviews here at AsianCineFest next week.
Admission: $12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors and students. General admission tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, by calling the box office at 212-715-1258, or at www.japansociety.org. Purchase tickets to all three films in the same transaction and receive $2 off each ticket--special offer available only for in-person purchases or by calling the box office (offer not available for online purchases).
For further information about the three Ichikawa films that will be shown and to order tickets, click here.