alr

Where Chimneys are Seen
(Entotsu no mieru basho)

Screening on Film
Directed by Heinosuke Gosho.
With Kinuyo Tanaka, Ken Uehara, Hideko Takamine.
Japan, 1953, 35mm, black & white, 108 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.
Print source: The Japan Foundation

Tanaka stars alongside Ken Uehara as a newlywed older couple living in a working-class industrial area of Tokyo in Gosho’s beloved masterpiece and sterling example of the shichomingeki, the popular dramas of domestic life that were aimed principally towards female audiences. Written by Hideo Oguni, best known as screenwriter for Akira Kurosawa and for Ikiru in particular, Where Chimneys are Seen uses its minimal yet deeply satisfying narrative to focus on revealing details of the daily lives of the older couple and that of the younger husband and wife renting the apartment upstairs. Both a hard-hitting drama and a gentle comedy (a rare tonal balance that, in fact, recalls Ikiru), Where Chimneys are Seen is one of the lasting classics of postwar Japanese cinema. While the film intertwines the stories of the two couples it leans gravitationally towards Tanaka, who delivers a remarkable and revealing monologue that sits at the emotional heart of the film and offers yet another indelible high point of her acting career.

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