I ntroduction
The Auteur as Salaryman
Mr. Naruse was more than merely reticent: he was a person whose refusal to talk
was downright malicious.—Takamine Hideko
This is now the time for Naruse to reveal all the qualities and aspects of his
cinema to the world. . . . the urgent need is to find a theory of film that suits this
Age of Discovery.—Hasumi Shigehiko
Almost all the writing in English on Naruse Mikio begins with a lament
about the critical neglect he has suffered, a neglect closely linked to the
relative unavailability of his films. Except for infrequent and largely in-
complete retrospectives in North America and Europe since the 1980s,
most of Naruse’s eighty-nine films remain unknown to contemporary
cinephiles. Although a substantial amount has been written in Japanese
on Naruse, little has been translated, and in popular cultural history his
name remains a virtual secret.1 Within the tendency to rank directors in
Japan, Naruse is frequently listed as the “number four” auteur, follow-
ing Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, and Ozu in international—and Japanese—
recognition. However, as Hasumi Shigehiko and Yamane Sadao point
out, Naruse was not a “number one” sort of person, and he may par-
tially have his own modesty to blame for his underappreciation.2 Equally
true, though, is the fact that Japanese producers did not see the need to
promote films made for female audiences beyond their initial theatrical
runs, and they did not see the export value in them either.3
Previous Page Next Page