Wednesday, 29 July 2009


Short piece on Kon Ichikawa's film version of Mishima's 'Temple Of The Golden Pavilion' entitled 'Enjo', it was released in 1958, two years after Mishima's novel was published. Ichikawa adapted many stories from the big names of Japanese Literature, like Soseki, Tanizaki, Toson. It's been some years since I read Mishima's novel, and it was good to reacquaint myself with the story, although the film only touches on key elements of the novel, I guess if Ichikawa wanted to delve deeper into the book, we would have had a film that went on for alot longer, which would have been no bad thing. Mishima's novel was based on the true incident of Hayashi Yoken, a Buddhist acolyte who burnt down Kinkaku-ji , in Kyoto, July 1950, and then attempted to commit suicide.Ichikawa's film seems to present some of the sequences a little out of order to the book, if I remember rightly, but still it makes for very interesting viewing. I seem to be increasingly enjoying black and white films of the 50's and 60's.

The film has Raizo Ichikawa playing the lead as Goichi Mizoguchi, the monk who becomes obsessed with the beauty of the temple, and eventually burns it down. Raizo Ichikawa also went on to appear in Kenji Misumi's 1964 film 'Ken', (excellent synopsis here.),which was an adaption of Mishima's short story 'Sword'. I liked the cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa, who was the cinematographer for Kurosawa's, 'Rashomon' and also worked with Mizoguchi, Naruse, Shinoda, and also Masumura. The cremation on the beach is a scene that'll remain in my mind for a while, also at the end when Goichi watches the embers of the burning temple being blown around in the swirl of the heat was captured brilliantly. Also I don't remember the novel ending the same way that the film did, as I think the novel finishes with Goichi sitting on the hill after setting the temple ablaze, if Hayashi Yoken actually met his end in the way depicted in the film, I don't know.
There's not too many Kon Ichikawa films available with English subtitles, which is a great pity, it would be great to see alot more of his films like 'Her Brother', 'Punishment Room' , 'The Hole' and 'Odd Obsession' which was based on Tanizaki's novel 'The Key'. 'Odd Obsession' won the Jury Prize at the 1960 Cannes film festival, so it's hard to believe that these films aren't readily available on DVD outside of Japan.

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