Kon Ichikawa (市川 崑) 1915-2008

Kon Ichkawa





















 Harp of Burma

Harp of Burma 


I’d like to note the death of Kon Ichikawa, perhaps the last link to what’s considered the golden age of Japanese cinema. He passed away on February 13 at the age of 92. 


He started in the Japanese film industry in the 1930s. By the 1950s he was an established director. He particularly hit his stride in the late 50s and early 60s with a string of amazing films – his anti-war fclassics, HARP OF BURMA and FIRES ON THE PLAINS;  his hilarious and still transgressive 1959 film, ODD OBSESSION; his 1963 masterpiece, AN ACTOR’S REVENGE; and his great 1965 documentary, TOKYO OLYMPIAD – among many others.


When I first saw his films, in the late 60s, I was awe-struck.  We did a retrospective of his work at the Grand Illusion in the late 80s, which I think was that last time that his oeuvre was seriously examined in Seattle.


He was often compared to the likes of Kurosawa and Mizoguchi. His star diminished as the new wave of Japanese cinema took the spotlight and his non autuer-like body of films refused an easy analysis by critics and historians. However, he consistently kept putting out quality product up until two years ago, occasionally hitting some high points with the likes of The MAKIOKA SISTERS.


There are still few films as deeply humanitarian, moving and so cogently against war as HARP OF BURMA. It’s well worth going to Scarecrow to check out some films by this great film director.  


Sayonara, Kon-san.

About Nicholas Vroman

Nicholas Vroman is a writer, photographer, musician, filmmaker and cultural explorer, originally from Seattle, now living in Tokyo. He writes regularly on Japanese film for Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow and EL Magazine (a Tokyo-based arts and entertainment rag) and occasionally for the likes of Filmmaker Magazine and Films in Focus.
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