Setsuko Hara

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Leo Wong
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Re: Setsuko Hara

#51 Post by Leo Wong » Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:24 pm

ambrose wrote:
Leo Wong wrote:Comment to Analysis of "There Was A Father", Vermillion and One Nights:
According to Chishu Ryu, Shuji Sano was the favorite of Ozu. However, it did not mean Ryu and Sano were the “first take” actors, e.g. the actors whom Ozu was satisfied with the first take. They seemed to have enjoyed more than tens of retakes before Ozu finally said OK. On the other hand, Hara was the first take actress. Another first take actor was Shin Saburi. Interesting, isn't it?
While that quote might be applicable to Miss.Hara's work with Ozu,(who extensively coached each actor prior to any individual sequence) I do not think that it would have been possible for her to have adopted the same approach with Naruse Mikio,a director who always insisted on multiple mind-numbing takes.(The effect achieved by these takes appears to be a performance style not-too dissimilar to that of a Bresson "model")
Setsuko Hara and Shuji Sano play very well together in Naruse's Sudden Rain, a delightful comedy.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#52 Post by ambrose » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:33 am

The reference by Mr.Wong to decent Naruse directed performances by Setsuko Hara and Shuji Sano appears to have been in response to a perceived criticism of that director's style . The reference to multiple mind-numbing takes and the following statement that the effect achieved by these takes appears to be a performance style not-too dissimilar to that of a Bresson "model" were never intended as criticisms . Multiple mind-numbing takes can help to strip away artifice!

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#53 Post by ambrose » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:34 am

Phyllis Birnbaum wrote:After seeing a "Hara Setsuko movie" the novelist Endo shusaku writes,in a typically reverential response,"we would sigh or let out a great breath from the depths of our hearts, for what we felt was precisely this:Can it be possible that there is such a woman in this world?" Endo is one of several men I know who dream of meeting Hara just once before they die.Hara was so refined,so moral,so beautiful,so representative of all that Japanese men valued in woman that she remained excitingly out of reach for the hordes of males who adored her.
Judging by the Quasi religious and erotic fervour with which a certain sector of the Male Japanese population embraced Miss Hara's star persona, she appears to have literally embodied the Madonna/whore dichotomy for that demographic. To paraphrase, some Japanese men regarded her as a virgin Mary figure whom they would also like to fuck (the discovery of this rather breathless paragraph within an essay primarily devoted to Takamine Hideko came as quite a pleasant shock). Catherine Russell's interpretation of Setsuko Hara's star persona veers far more towards the symbolic than even Endo shusaku's rhapsodic pronouncement, she is also very informative on the matter of performance!
Catherine Russell wrote:Her star image was thus closely bound to the national imaginary,in which the ideology of the virgin harbored an ideal of cultural purity. Hara Setsuko's screen persona is one of tight control,under which a current of strong emotion can often be detected. Part of her popular appeal was due to a certain honesty and integrity of character,enhanced by the home drama genre that kept her in extremely plain costumes.However,she also excelled in expressing highly contradictory and conflicted emotions.She can be at once hopeful and doubtful at marriage proposals;she laughs when she is most sad and cries when she is most happy.The contradictions and tensions within Hara's star image are very much bound up with a nativist sensibility, a longing for the past combined with a recognition of the impossibility of such a return. Among her secrets is her reputed quarter-German heritage that may account for her slightly Caucasian look.
This last sentence by Catherine Russell appears to contradict Peter B High's assertion that Miss.Hara's appearance conformed more to Japanese norms than Hideko Takamine's.
Peter B High wrote:Western standards of beauty had been adopted for the selection of actors and actresses from a very early period in Japanese cinema.There is no clear evidence that a new, more Japanese standard was ever clearly defined,even during the pacific war years. Uehara Ken,Takamine Hideko, and Kogure Michiyo all continued to be prominent in the industry,despite their rather occidental looks. On the other hand,one could contend that Hara Setsuko and Fujita Susumu were the preferred choices for roles in the war time morale booster because they were perceived as more "traditionally Japanese-looking".
Last edited by ambrose on Fri Jun 17, 2011 2:19 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#54 Post by Leo Wong » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:33 am

I would fly to Japan today if Masae Aida invited me, but would not intrude on her otherwise. Thank you for the quote from Shusaku Endo.
Michael Kerpan wrote:
ambrose wrote:A review of Repast from Wonders in The Dark that mentions in passing the semi-omnipotent presence of cat's in Naruse's oeuvre,without contextualising the use of the specific cat in Repast as a mechanism whereby a certain emotional response was elicited from a struggling Setsuko Hara!.
Ozu seems to have preferred dogs to cats in his films. Offhand I can't recall any Ozu cats. ;~}
Lots of cats in The Munekata Sisters.

Tadao Sato:
When we lost the war there was a great psychological confusion. There was a mood that we had to try to understand America, the American way of thinking. I remember I went to see the very first American film that was brought to Japan, which was "His Butler's Sister" (1943). It wasn't a particularly weighty film. Diana Darbin played a young woman visiting her brother in New York. There is a scene where she is walking along the street and — because she's very beautiful — all the men turn back to look at her. And when they do that, they are sort of grinning and smiling. I was so surprised to see that.

Of course, the same thing would happen in Japan, but such an act would've been seen almost as the first step toward delinquency. In a film, the men would have been depicted as leering and shifty. But in this American film, the men seemed normal. I decided then and there that this was a culture I needed to know more about! I actually thought it might have been a good thing that we lost the war.
Ed Corkill, interview with Tadao Sato, Japan's Single Finest Film Critic.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#55 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:38 am

Leo Wong wrote:Lots of cats in The Munekata Sisters.
No wonder it seems so atypical. ;~}

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#56 Post by ambrose » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:31 pm

Over-Freudian analysis of the vase in Late Spring
Norman N. Holland wrote:At the same time, Noriko seems overly girlish for a 27-year-old. She is certainly very smiley and giggly, even for a Japanese woman. (In general, the Japanese, at this time anyway, smiled more than Americans. Watch the professor who also can talk grim things while grinning. But Noriko represents an extreme, I think.) Noriko is a moga (“modern girl”). She has an easy way with men, not the traditional shyness, a change perhaps due to the American occupation. The actress, Setsuko Hara, was a great favorite with the Japanese for being a moga, projecting both sensuality and chastity (think Ingrid Bergman).

Recognizing that it is not just her satisfyingly Electral relationship with her father but also her sexual inhibition explains her unwillingness to get involved (go to the concert) with Hattori, her father’s handsome research assistant. He would be a perfect match for her, if he chose to break off his engagement. Perhaps that is what the puzzling “pickled radish” conversation points to. The radish in question is shaped like a male member, and she makes them “all strung together,” that is, all one, hence her being “the jealous type” (but I am guessing here, since I know neither Japanese nor the saying she refers to).

Her inhibitions explain some of Ozu’s more puzzling “pillow” or “punctuation” shots. Many critics have commented on a simple but lengthy shot of a vase after a crucial conversation between father and daughter as they are going to sleep in Kyoto. She confesses that she told Onodera that his remarrying was “filthy.” He reassures her. She smiles and assents. Then she confesses that she even found the idea of his remarrying “really distasteful.” She looks across at him, but he has dropped off to sleep and lightly snores. He didn’t hear her. Cut to a six-second shot of the vase. Cut back to Noriko who now is no longer smiling but sad. Cut to a second shot of that vase, nine seconds this time. Then he ends the scene by cutting to the next day and the highly traditional Ryoan-ji rock garden. The vase is a classic feminine symbol. Her vase is what will be penetrated in marriage, as Onodera penetrated his wife’s vase as part of being “filthy.”
In Ozu and the poetics of cinema apropos the seminal and transcendent scene in the Kyoto inn, David Bordwell sought to dismantle the previous narrative orientated interpretation posited by Donald Richie. While Richie had acknowledged the formalist tendencies of Ozu, he failed[according to Bordwell] to appreciate the sheer abstraction of this sequence.The cutaways to the vase after our contemplation of Noriko might not signify her pov and therefore a symbolic value being attached to that vase[Richie sees it as a repository of her emotional turmoil] but rather a purely abstract, decontextualized object of aesthetic contemplation. Image Image
Last edited by ambrose on Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:58 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#57 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:29 pm

It does seem a little over the top -- then again, a lot of what is written about Late Spring is that way....

My personal theory is that Noriko has not been fully socialized as a typical Japanese female -- between her work during the war (followed by illness) and her status as an only child of a widower (who treated her almost as much like a son as a daughter). The father feels bad that he didn't make certain she was properly socialized -- and feels bad when he pushes her into a culturally pre-defined role. One is left very uncertain of the future in this (unlike Early Summer, where we are given a sense that all will eventually turn out well_.

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Lemmy Caution
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Re: Setsuko Hara

#58 Post by Lemmy Caution » Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:30 am

Interesting thread.
I was just reading Donald Ritchie on Setsuko Hara's early film, The Daughter of the Samurai, a 1936-37 German-Japanese co-production.

From a historical standpoint, this propaganda work sounds completely fascinating.
The intended German-Japanese co-direction apparently frazzled from the outset, resulting in two separate versions, German and Japanese, being filmed.
Arnold Fanck wrote the screenplay as a Nazi slant on Germany's new relationship with Japan. The film(s) end with a German man and Japanese woman (17 year old Setsuko Hara) starting a new life in recently conquered Manchuria.

Was wondering if anyone has seen this/these?
Do both versions still exist?
Any way to see these?

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#59 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:44 am

The scenes of domestic life in Samurai's Daughter were all shot by Mansaku Itami (father of Juzo Itami) -- and he was primarily responsible for the Japanese version of the film. I've only seen the German version. Hara generally only whispers her German lines (too shy to talk louder -- Hara, or her character?)

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#60 Post by Leo Wong » Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:38 am

Lemmy Caution wrote:I was just reading Donald Ritchie on Setsuko Hara's early film, The Daughter of the Samurai, a 1936-37 German-Japanese co-production.

From a historical standpoint, this propaganda work sounds completely fascinating.
The intended German-Japanese co-direction apparently frazzled from the outset, resulting in two separate versions, German and Japanese, being filmed.
Arnold Fanck wrote the screenplay as a Nazi slant on Germany's new relationship with Japan. The film(s) end with a German man and Japanese woman (17 year old Setsuko Hara) starting a new life in recently conquered Manchuria.

Was wondering if anyone has seen this/these?
Do both versions still exist?
Any way to see these?
I couldn't watch it, even though both actresses are very attractive, one of them my favorite of all actresses. Will try again sometime. Don't know if the Japanese version still exists. Wonder if it would be more palatable to me.

I believe that the male hero is and is supposed to be Japanese.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#61 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:42 pm

The hero is a Germanized Japanese -- who has realized that he should be true to his own racial roots and cut off his romance with a German woman.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#62 Post by ambrose » Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:47 am

Ahen senso. Has anyone on this forum ever seen this unique collaboration between Setsuko Hara and Hideko Takamine,an adaptation or propaganda re-imagining of Orphans of the Storm with Setsuko Hara reprising the Lillian Gish role?
Peter B. High wrote:Makino Masahiro's The Opium War was undoubtedly one of the most bizarre of all the history films dealing with western imperialism in Asia.Set in the late 1830s,when Britain was extracting painful concessions from china through military action and smuggled opium, the film is actually a costume-piece romance, replete with special effects and a long interlude of Busby Berkeley like dance numbers.

Counterintuitive reading of the penultimate sequence in Late Spring!
Sharp Sand wrote:her father and a woman friend — a divorcee we’ve met earlier, a friend of Noriko’s — are shown in their wedding clothes in a bar drinking sake. The implication of this final scene is that the father will marry this not quite respectable woman rather than the woman to whom he nodded during the Noh performance, ironically proving himself to be more modern than his younger daughter, who even in marriage continues to represent the traditional Japanese virtues of filial piety and self-sacrifice.

Womanly sympathy rather than romantic yearning appears to be the actual emotion expressed by Noriko's westernised friend during that sequence.

Apparently Howard Hawks belonged to the same modernist tradition as Ozu!
Cinema Duomo wrote:The most striking tendency in the films of Howard Hawks and Yasujiro Ozu is also one of the first things most may hear about their work. They are known for the techniques and devices they ignore more than those they utilize. This formalism, or minimalism, is in harmony with Arnheim’s contemporaneous theory of de-limitations; elemental factors that differentiate cinema from reality, such as the flatness of the screen and the compression or expansion of time.

This philosophy, of course, flies in the face of received film industry standards, which maintain that the greatest filmmakers should embrace and master every cinematic trick in the book in order to become complete artists. If this were true, though, the films of the masters would feel inadequate, unnecessary and embarrassing, instead of being the poised masterpieces – and endless sources of inspiration to younger cineastes – that they are.

What are we to make of the fact that Hawks conspicuously shunned dramatic breaks like flashbacks, dream sequences or expository dialogue? Ozu, similarly, gradually stripped his style of pans, zooms, dissolves, fades and ultimately any camera movement at all. Why would such ingenious directors opt to restrain their methods rather than keep pushing outward in search of bigger and better?

The only sufficient answer is that they knew what they were doing. It seems that working within boundaries encouraged more rigorous and creative expression. Whether looking at Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings or To Have and Have Not, or Ozu’s Late Spring or Equinox Flower, we see the antithesis of the sloppy, indulgent pretentiousness of the post-‘art film’ era. We see art without affectation, emotion without sentimentality, guts without vulgarity, compelling themes without sermonizing; in short, everything that’s missing from the present film world.

Setsuko Hara: The diva who left Japan wanting a lot more
SIMON ABRAMS wrote:Hara's fans expect too much from their idol in real life. They want her to live out her career according to Noriko's grin-and-bear-it philosophy. But she won't because, like her characters, she is determined to be faithful to herself, on her terms. All we can do is marvel at the performances she gave us and respect the spirit of individualism that they so gracefully embody.

Emily and Noriko: Two Cases of Representation of Historical Change.
Akitoshi Nagahata wrote:Noriko's marriage, which makes her leave her father and start a new family, thus corresponds to the historical transition from prewar to postwar Japan. Just as Emily's aborted marriage problematically presents the drama of renewing the representative house of the South, Noriko's marriage symbolically enacts a drama of renewing the representative family of Japan. Unlike Emily, who seemingly fails to renew that representative family by letting the Yankee Barron occupy the position of her dead father, it appears that Noriko does renew her representative family by finding a young husband who replaces her father. However, Noriko's marriage does not go smoothly either, for, though she marries at the end of the story, she continues to refuse marriage until she is made to believe that her father will remarry. Noriko's marriage, after all, is a result of overcoming the contrary desire to avoid marriage, that is to say, the desire to remain in the old representative house of Japan.
Last edited by ambrose on Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:42 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#63 Post by ambrose » Sat Apr 16, 2011 4:59 am

ambrose wrote:Ahen senso. Has anyone on this forum ever seen this unique collaboration between Setsuko Hara and Hideko Takamine,an adaptation or propaganda re-imagining of Orphans of the Storm with Setsuko Hara reprising the Lillian Gish role?
Peter B. High wrote:Makino Masahiro's The Opium War was undoubtedly one of the most bizarre of all the history films dealing with western imperialism in Asia.Set in the late 1830s,when Britain was extracting painful concessions from china through military action and smuggled opium, the film is actually a costume-piece romance, replete with special effects and a long interlude of Busby Berkeley like dance numbers.
Ahen senso's introductory sequence.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#65 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:34 pm

Hara was pretty awful as a young Chinese woman in "Shanghai Msrine Detachment" (a WW@ propaganda film).

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#66 Post by ambrose » Wed May 04, 2011 7:46 pm


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Re: Setsuko Hara

#67 Post by Leo Wong » Fri May 06, 2011 1:09 pm

Less waiting here: No Regrets for Setsuko Hara.

One offered translation is: "This film was taken by US investigating team (GI's?) in Kyoto in 1946. Her recollection at that time, 'The war is over and it brings me to be able to enjoy free, cultural activity. I think it's natural to devote myself to my suitable occupation and feel it as if I removed a blindfold in a world where women were released freely. I get infinite pleasures to have my hope of living as an actress and this causes my confidence about being an actress in my life.' Sorry for my poor translation. It seems that the existence of suppressed Japanese women had influences on her feelings." But I can't vouch for its accuracy.

From a comment by Murderous Ink in Vermillion and One Nights, Postwar Kurosawa: No Regrets for Our Youth:
According to the narration, this footage was shot by a member of the American Survey Team present at the shooting. Somehow, it seems that GHQ/SCAP was interested in Japanese filmmaking to some extent. Maybe, it just looked interesting. During the shooting of Kurosawa's previous film,"The Men Who Tread On the Tiger's Tail", many Americans went to see the shooting. One of them was John Ford. That John Ford. Kurosawa didn't know at the time (though John Ford was his idol), and of course, John Ford didn't know who he was either. Years later, in one of the film festival receptions in London, Ford told Kurosawa about it and you can imagine Kurosawa's amazement. I really wonder how Ford saw Kurosawa's shooting style.
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Re: Setsuko Hara

#68 Post by lubitsch » Fri May 06, 2011 3:02 pm

Leo Wong wrote: "I feel it as if I removed a blindfold in a world where women were released freely. I get infinite pleasures to have my hope of living as an actress and this causes my confidence about being an actress in my life.' It seems that the existence of suppressed Japanese women had influences on her feelings.
After having finished Peter High's Imperial Screen I wouldn't hesitate to call this self serving crap. Kurosawa's No Regrets is anyway an embarassing example of fascist collaborateurs daring to portray the roles of oppressed opposition fighters. It leaves an equally bad taste like similar cases in Italian and German cinema. As for Hara it seems this little b*** acted willingly in every propagandistic spiritist film around, so she could have done with a few years in jail IMHO.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#69 Post by swo17 » Fri May 06, 2011 3:03 pm

Is that really a humble opinion?

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#70 Post by lubitsch » Fri May 06, 2011 3:12 pm

swo17 wrote:Is that really a humble opinion?
Yes, my original phrasing was quite offensive, now it's a gentle critique.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#71 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri May 06, 2011 3:25 pm

swo17 wrote:Is that really a humble opinion?
Of course! Just look at the humble way he declined to write out 'bitch' so that no one could be offended when he called a beloved actress a "little bitch." It's precisely that gentleness of touch that saves his post from being needlessly aggressive and provoking.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#72 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri May 06, 2011 3:51 pm

I'm not aware of any actors who were punished for appearing in WW2 propaganda films (except for people who wound up as prisoners of war outside Japan itself -- like Shirley Yamaguchi, and even she got repatriated once she proved she was a Japanese citizen). Though some studio executives (and writers) were banned from working for varying periods of time, I don't believe any were jailed.

Lubitsch seems to have a high standard for wreaking vengeance that the occupation forces failed to meet. Boo hoo for that dumb b*****d.

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#73 Post by Leo Wong » Fri May 06, 2011 4:06 pm

Did I post this here before? Ernie K:

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#74 Post by ambrose » Fri May 06, 2011 4:29 pm

lubitsch wrote:
Leo Wong wrote: "I feel it as if I removed a blindfold in a world where women were released freely. I get infinite pleasures to have my hope of living as an actress and this causes my confidence about being an actress in my life.' It seems that the existence of suppressed Japanese women had influences on her feelings.
After having finished Peter High's Imperial Screen I wouldn't hesitate to call this self serving crap. Kurosawa's No Regrets is anyway an embarassing example of fascist collaborateurs daring to portray the roles of oppressed opposition fighters. It leaves an equally bad taste like similar cases in Italian and German cinema. As for Hara it seems this little b*** acted willingly in every propagandistic spiritist film around, so she could have done with a few years in jail IMHO.
She was a product of her immediate environment and upper middle class upbringing,her right-wing beliefs might have been expressed more fervently than most but they were still nonetheless quite typical of her class!

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Re: Setsuko Hara

#75 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri May 06, 2011 4:49 pm

A lot of Hara's acting contemporaries (and older and younger colleagues) were far less right-wing than she was -- alas.

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