Conversations in Silence 6: Kinugasa Teinosuke’s Crossroads (Jujiro)


We had a good turnout in June for the fifth edition of Conversations in Silence at Haremame, where we showed the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Kataoka Ichiro was decked out in his frock coat (which he only wears for Caligari), and Kikuchi Naruyoshi set the mood using mostly German music from Stockhausen to body music. The talk afterwards was great, especially as Kikuchi-san talked at length about the difficulties of adding music to Japanese vs. European films.

The next film in the series might be a test of Kikuchi-san’s skills, since we will be showing Kinugasa Teinosuke’s experimental jidaigeki Crossroads (Jujiro) from 1928. We showed Kinugasa’s Page of Madness (about which I have written a book) for the first edition of the series, and Crossroads was the director’s attempt at experimentation subsequent to that, after having returned to mainstream filmmaking for a few years. It is quite unusual compared to the jidaigeki of the time, both for its noirish lighting and tale of love and blindness, but also for the fact it was one of the first period films not to have a sword fight, which was a defining feature of jidaigeki. A master director of jidaigeki, Kinugasa was bending genre rules and aiming for something else. I wonder how Kikuchi-san will interpret this film that is neither European nor clearly fitting the rules of a Japanese jidaigeki.

This will be the last Conversations in Silence of 2019 (and who knows about 2020), so check it out if you are in Tokyo. Jujiro is not shown that often, and barely ever with a benshi and music!

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