With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

CONFLAGRATION reviewed; screening at Japan Society on Friday

Japan Society NY
Kon Ichikawa Restorations
Conflagration © Kadokawa Corporation.
Conflagration / Enjô
Directed by Kon Ichikawa
Starring Raizo Ichikawa, Tatsuya Nakadai, Ganjiro Nakamura
Japan, 1958, 99 minutes, 35mm, b/w

When: Friday, October 16, 2015 at 7:00 om
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

Synopsis (courtesy Japan Society):

Known as Ichikawa's favorite of his own films, Conflagration is the pinnacle of the many acclaimed literary adaptations he and his wife Natto Wada worked on together. Loosely based on true events that also inspired Yukio Mishima's novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, the story involves the spiritual and psychological breakdown of an introverted, troubled youth named Goichi (Raizo Ichikawa), whose desire for pure beauty leads him to Kyoto's Shukaku temple, where he becomes an apprentice to the priest. Haunted by the trauma of his father's death, Goichi is unable to reconcile the sacred beauty of the temple with postwar reality, and his absolutist ideals become increasingly distorted until they lead to destruction. Ichikawa's stark, poignant film is unforgettably rendered in stunning black and white by cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa (Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon and numerous other highly regarded films).


It's not difficult to understand why Ichikawa was so pleased with this film, as it's a superb piece of story-telling. And, as previously mentioned, Miyagawa's cinematography is outstanding.

Raizo Ichikawa, perhaps best known to Westerners for his portrayal of Nemuri Kyoshiro in the Sleepy Eyes of Death swordplay series, gives a superb performance as Goichi. So too does Tatsuya Nakadai as Togari, Goichi's lame and dissolute fellow student. It's a revelation seeing the two of them so early in their careers.

Kudos must also be mentioned for the 4k restoration of the film by the Kadokawa Corporation. The movie looked wonderful on the DVD screener I watched, so I'm sure it will be magnificent in the 35mm print being shown at Japan Society on Friday evening.

AsianCineFest Rating: 4 out of 4 stars, most highly recommended. In other words, it's a "must-see" if at all possible.

This screening of Conflagration is part of the three film mini-series Kon Ichikawa Restorations

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