Saturday, 29 March 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 112: Wed Apr 23

The Demon (Nomura, 1978): ICA Cinema, 8.30pm


This is part of the Yoshitaro Nomura season at the ICA. Details here.

You can read a detailed feature on this film by my Guardian colleague Phil Hoad here.

Here is the ICA introduction:

Originally a 1957 short story, which in turn is based on a real life incident, The Demon is the disturbingly detached account of a pathetic father, Sôkichi, who’s encouraged to commit awful crimes by his partner.

The film begins in a low-rent downtown Tokyo suburb where Sôkichi runs a declining printing business with his unhappy wife. One sweltering summer’s day, Sôkichi’s mistress – hitherto unknown to the wife - arrives from another part of the city with their three children. At the end of her tether after Sôkichi’s maintenance payments have stopped, she has resigned to leave their children with him.

This is perhaps one of the most downbeat of all the films that Nomura made from Seichô Matsumoto sources, and the earlier scenes, which depict a deeply unhappy domestic situation, are particularly tough. The film’s great asset is a performance of real skill by Ken Ogata (also in The Castle of Sand), who plays wretched Sôkichi, and lends him, if not exactly sympathy, a tangible sense of hurt and conflict. Ogata originally hesitated at accepting this role but was persuaded to sign on by a friend.

The result was the Best Actor award from the Japanese Academy, and a subsequent career playing powerful, difficult characters, most notably the infamous writer Yukio Mishima in Paul Schrader’s Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters.

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