Song of Home
(Furusato no Uta)
Screening on Film
With Shigeru Kido, Sueko Ito, Shiro Kato, Kentaro Kawamata.
Japan, 1925, 35mm, black & white, silent, 45 min.
Japanese titles with English subtitles.
Print source: National Film Center, Japan
A commission from the Ministry of Education for an educational film about rural youth, Mizoguchi’s earliest extant feature observes the tensions that erupt among a group of village children when two privileged youth return from Tokyo where they have been studying in a private school. Song of Home offers a very different approach to the rigid Japanese caste system explored in so many of Mizoguchi’s later films, here by focusing upon the difficult decisions faced by a young village boy when forced to choose between schooling in Tokyo and upholding his family tradition as a farmer. Stylistically Song of Home is also strikingly different from Mizoguchi’s iconic films, most notably for its use of Soviet-style montage and extreme close-ups and the total absence of the long-takes of expressionist camera movement that would become one of the director’s signatures.