C onclusion
Placing in fourth position in the Kinema Junpo poll for 1967, Scattered
Clouds was the biggest critical success of the last decade of Naruse’s
career. Shortly after it was completed, he was hospitalized with cancer.
(Ill health had forced Naruse off work for most of 1964.)1 Tsukasa Yoko
and Takamine Hideko both report visiting the director during the last
two years of his life, when he seems to have become more forthcoming
and talkative than he ever was on set with his actors. Takamine says
that, shortly before his death, in 1969, he reminded her of an idea he had
hatched a few years earlier, of a film in which she would perform against
a white curtain, with “no sets, no color . . . nothing but the drama itself,
unfolding before a white backdrop with no impediments.” On his death-
bed, Naruse asked Takamine if she would act in this film for him.2
How can we account for this imaginary final film that seems to imply
the essence of Naruse’s ambitions as a filmmaker? It sounds like a strange
combination of Warhol’s minimalism and Karsh’s celebrity photography,
perhaps even with some of the documentary, improvisational aesthetics
of Cassavetes mixed in. It is, in a word, far more avant-garde and experi-
mental than any film that Naruse ever completed. While it suggests, on
the one hand, that he may have been aware of the new photographic and
cinematic aesthetics of the 1960s, it also points to the way that his film-
making was focused, throughout his career, on the interface between the
cinematic machine and the human face and body. Here we may return
to Benjamin’s remarks on the modernity of the cinema as an apparatus
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