P re face
Over the years in which I’ve been working on this project, those who
know Naruse’s cinema invariably ask me which film is my favorite. I
have no answer to this question. I like all the films, to different de-
grees perhaps, and for different reasons, and the process of discovering
this cinema has been one of continual surprise and unexpected plea-
sure. Naruse seems not to have been able to make a truly bad film; but
equally important is that my approach throughout has been to develop
a methodology that would highlight the aesthetic values of his cinema
without resorting to hierarchical or competitive models of ranking. For
some cinephiles this might be a disappointment, and the study might
appear to be disordered, but I hope that by replacing evaluative clas-
sification with historical analysis, another kind of knowledge might be
produced about this director of women’s films.
My fascination with this cinema led me to treat it comprehensively,
without leaving out a single one of the extant films. Of Naruse’s twenty-
four silent films, nineteen have been lost, and of the sixty-five sound
films, two have been lost, and one is available only in incomplete form.1
However, I have been fortunate to view all the remaining sixty-seven of
the eighty-nine titles in Naruse’s filmography, including two short films
that were produced as part of omnibus features.2 The bulk of this book
consists of close readings of these films. When I began working on this
project, I thought I would have twenty to thirty titles to work with and
that my analyses would be based on hastily scribbled notes in the dark.
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