Kaneto Shindô’s Human (Shinkon Version)
Although Kaneto Shindô had been moderately successful working as a writer and director for Daiei (and later Nikkatsu) throughout the 1950’s, by 1960 Shindô was starting to find his true voice as a director. He founded his own production company, Kindai Eiga Kaikyo, to help finance what would be his first masterpiece, The Naked Island. He followed that with Human, an equally awsome little “love story” set on a boat lost at sea. Naturally, without the help of the major studios to back him, Shindô had trouble exhibiting the film. At that same time the fledgling independent cinema group, The Art Theatre Guild was gaining influence with their single art-house cinema in Shinjuku. At that point the ATG was primarily showing foreign films that the majors couldn’t care less about (Fellini, Godard, Bergman, and other no-name hacks), but Shindô’s Human was to be the first domestic title for ATG exhibition (along with Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Pitfall). It was the beginning of the most significant period in Japanese film history, and helped kick start a movement that would completely change Japanese cinema. Coincidentally, when the ATG finally dissolved in 1992, it was Shindô’s latest film, The Strange Tale of Oyuki that closed the curtain. I have quite a bit to say about the ATG. More to come.