Yasuzo Masumura Japan, 1969
(Senbazuru). In adapting Kawabata's famous novel about the entangled relations between the son of a seductive tea-ceremony teacher and the women in his father's life, Masumura subverts the literary genre so beloved of Japanese cinema. Kikuji (Mikijiro Hira) attends of a tea ceremony held by his late father's one-time mistress, Chikako, and there embarks on an affair with the real love of his father's life, Mrs. Ota. Mrs. Ota's grief is palpable, but Kikuji's motives are more mysterious-perhaps, like her, to know his father through the sexual experience. A complex transference is played out in such relationships, and through objects, such as tea cups, that are infused with human spirit. Masumura takes these suggested relationships to extremes in the film: Ayako Wakao plays Mrs. Ota with breathless despair, while Machiko Kyo's Chikako, the gracious manipulator, is a veritable specter.
• Written by Kaneto Shindo, based on the novel by Yasunari Kawabata. Photographed by Setsuo Kobayashi. With Ayako Wakao, Machiko Kyo, Mikijiro Hira, Eiko Azusa. (95 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, 'Scope, 16mm, From The Japan Foundation, permission Daiei)