Monday, September 10, 2012

Muhomatsu – The Rickshaw Man

Having watched this film I have found it delightful. Sure, Toshiro Mifune chews up the scenery. Yes, Hideko Takamine is underused as a co-star. However, the film is fun and dramatic at the same time. Muhomatsu is a rickshaw man. He comes from a poor family and never attended school. He crosses paths with an upper class family when he takes a child to the doctor when he is hurt. After refusing money from the child’s father, the family bonds with the likeable “Wild Matsu.” Along the way we see glimpses into Japanese life as it transitions from the late Edo period to the industrialization of Japan. It is set at the end of the Russo-Japanese war. There are excellent scenes throughout the film including footage shot inside a kabuki theater where "Wild Matsu" pisses off the audience when he makes smelly garlic soup inside the seating area. Japan’s authoritative system of order comes into play and while "Wild Matsu" is free willed, he is not rebellious. He is a good man of honor and principle. As the character of Mrs. Yoshioka states in the film, “if he was in the army, he’d be a general among his peers.” The film is poignant in how Matsu is aware of his shortcomings but is not apologetic for it and helps guide the boy to manhood after the child’s father passes away due to illness. It is not until near the end of the film does it become clear that Matsu has been in love with Mrs. Yoshioka but he cannot cross the cultural divide. The movie ends sadly but it gives great performances by Toshiro Mifune. He wakes up the elderly in the village when the drummers during an event are given a break when Matsu offers to show what drumming used to be like in the old days. Toshiro uses the drums to great effect while annoucing the different forms of play then demonstrating them to the crowd. There are some quite moving scenes and even the small parts featured in the film are well played. Rickshaw wheels turn during the film to denote the passage of time and the film has some special effects as "Wild Matsu" recalls his life. Not bad for 1958

Producer: Tomoyuki Tanaka Director: Hiroshi Inagaki Screenplay: Hiroshi Inagaki, Mansaku Itami (writers); Shunsaku Iwashita (story) Cinematography: Kazuo Yamada Music: Ikuma Dan Film Editing: Yoshitami Kuroiwa Cast: Toshirô Mifune (Matsugoro), Hideko Takamine (Yoshiko Yoshioka), Hiroshi Akutagawa (Capt. Kotaro Yoshioka), Chishû Ryû (Shigezo Yuki), Chôko Iida (Otora (innkeeper)), Haruo Tanaka (Kumakichi), Jun Tatara (Theatre employee), Kenji Kasahara (Toshio Yoshioka), Kaoru Matsumoto (Young Toshio), Nobuo Nakamura (Yoshiko's brother). C-103m.

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