Where Chimneys Are Seen
(Entotsu no mieru basho)
Imported 35mm Print
Kinuyo Tanaka, Ken Uehara, Hideko Takamine, Hiroshi Akutagawa,
Heinosuke Gosho’s most celebrated film in both Japan and the West, Where Chimneys Are Seen is perhaps the most compelling example of his concern for, and insights into, the everyday lives of lower-middle-class people. “One of the really important postwar Japanese films” (Joseph Anderson and Donald Richie), the film depicts the lives of two couples against the backdrop of Tokyo’s growing industrialization during the 1950s. Ken Uehara and Kinuyo Tanaka portray a tabi sock salesman and his lonely wife, whose lives—along with those of their two timidly amorous lodgers (Hideko Takamine and Hiroshi Akutagawa)—are disrupted, and finally transformed, by the appearance of an abandoned baby on their tenement doorstep. The going metaphor—democratically shared by characters and filmmaker alike—is a mysterious group of chimneys that appear as one, two, three, or four smokestacks, depending on the angle from which they are viewed. The people living in the vicinity develop a certain affection for the anomaly, and for the philosophy it suggests: “Life is whatever you think it is,” asserts one character. “It can be sweet or bitter, whichever you are.”
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