Screenplay, Ichikawa, Tsutomu Nakamura, from the story “Passing Through the Wooden Gate,” by Shuguro Yamamoto. Camera (color), Takeo Akiba; editor, Chizuko Osada; music, Kensaku Tanigawa; production design, Masanori Umeda; sound, Tetsuya Ohashi. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (non-competing), Sept. 3, 1993. Running time: 91 MIN.
Seishiro Hiramatsu … Keiichi Nakai
Fusa … Yuko Asano
Gonemon Tahara …Frankie Sakai
Yoshizuka … Hisashi Igawa
Mura …Kyoko Kishida
Kageyu Iwai … Koji Ishizaka
Kajima … Shigeru Kohyama
“Fusa” is a glowing late work from master director Kon Ichikawa, now 78. It’s one of those elegiac Japanese period films that tells a supernatural story with uncanny resonance. High-quality vid-to-film transfer has definite small-screen appeal, with theatrical possibilities also.
Based on a classic story by Shuguro Yamamoto set in the 16th century, the film tells of an ambitious young samurai, Seishiro (Keiichi Nakai), who is adopted into the Iwai household to attain the necessary status to marry the daughter of the castle warden.
Plans for the marriage are jeopardized when a beautiful, bedraggled young woman (Yuko Asano) arrives, claiming to have lost her memory. He names her Fusa, and finally marries her instead. They have a daughter, but Seishiro lives in fear that Fusa will recover her memory.
Simple, beautifully told tale is visually impressive, with perfect framing and lighting. Final product in no way betrays its video origins. Pic was recorded on hi-def 1125-60 tape and transferred to 35mm using HDTV laser recording equipment. Process enabled Ichikawa to compose some striking images, such as using color and monochrome in the same scene.