Souls on the Road

Donald Sosin has been enthralling audiences with his silent film music for over thirty years. Among his many commissions for scores and film festival appearances, he performs each year at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival and is the pianist for the 2005 New York Film Festival's tribute to Shochiku.

Fumiaki Itakura is assistant curator of film at the National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

(Rojou no reikon). At a time when a mood of popular unrest was evidenced in labor strikes and social equality movements, the moment was ripe for Japanese cinema's first work of social criticism. More than that, Souls on the Road is considered the forerunner of modern Japanese film. Producer Kaoru Osanai brought fellow progressive theater director Minoru Murata in on a Shochiku project that would break in every way with the stage-bound tradition of Japanese cinema. It was based on two Western literary works, both powerful indictments of society, and modeled on the narrative style of Western movies. Koreya Togo, who would become a star at Shochiku under the name of Denmei Suzuki, plays the scion of a wealthy family who is living in poverty with his young family following his failed attempt to become a violinist. His plight is contrasted, Griffith-style, with that of two ex-convicts who make do no matter what.

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