The forgotten films of Uchida Tomu, among others


It is the task of film festivals and film archives to keep memories of the masters of cinema alive, especially when their fame is evaporated.

So, fortunatlely in 1997 the ‘Festival International du Film de la Rochelle’ presented a retrospective of the nearly forgotten Japanese director Uchida Tumu (1898-1970), in collaboration with the Japan Foundation and the National Film Center.
This retrospective went on tour around the world, and was presented at the Japanse internationale film festival Tokyo FILMeX (2004), the International Film Festival Rotterdam (2005) and the Melbourne International Filmfestival (2006).

The International Film Festival Rotterdam showed the following films of Tomu Uchida in the side bar programme aptly labeled ‘Cinema Regained’: A bloody spear at Mount Fuji (1955); Twilight saloon (1955); Chikamatsu's 'Love in Osaka'(1959); The master spearman (1960); en Yoshiwara: the pleasure quarter (1960); The mad fox (1962); A fugitive from the past (1965).
It was quite an overwhelming sensation to watch these magnificent master pieces in the biggest screening hall of the local commercial multiplex.

Here is a list of enthousiastic reviews and comments, available on internet:
  • Watts, Craig, ‘Blood Spear, Mt Fuji: Uchida Tomu’s Conflicted Comeback from Manchuria. Resurrection and renewal in postwar Japanese cinema, as seen through Tomu’s 1955 masterpiece’, in: Bright Lights Film Journal, nr 33 (july 2001), URL: http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/33/tomu1.html [20-1-2006]. Also available as ‘Bringing It All Back Home: Uchida Tomu’s Conflicted Comeback from Manchuria’, in: Cinetext, film and philosophy, URL: http://cinetext.philo.at/magazine/tomu.html [20-1-2006].

In Dutch:

In 2006 four films of Tomu Uchida were released on dvd, by the French label Wild Side Video.

Sadao Yamanaka (1909-1938) is another Japanese film director of the same generation as Tomu Uchida, whose films are also nearly forgotten. He has made 22 films, only 3 of them has been preserved. He died 29 years old, in military service. His last film is Ninjo Kamifusen (Humanity and Paper Balloons, 1937), which offers a compelling story about injustice, situated in 18th century Japan.
Humanity and Paper Balloons was shown in 1987 at the International Filmfestival Tokyo. Only many years later the film was rediscovered, shown at the film festival of Venice in 2005, as part of the programme ‘Storia Segreta del Cinema Giapponese (1926-1978)’.
The same year the film was released on dvd by Eureka, in the serie Masters of Cinema.

Some documentation, available on internet:

Other retrospectives of Japanese filmmakers, at the International Film Festival Rotterdam:
  • Masaki Kobayashi (1916-1996)
  • Seijun Suzuki (1923 -)
  • Yuzo Kawashima (1918-1963)
  • Shohei Imamura (1926-2006 )
  • Yoshida Kiju (1933- )
  • Sai Yoichi (1949 - )