Retrospective showcases Nakahira’s style

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Retrospective showcases Nakahira’s style

Francois Truffaut, the famous French film director, started out as a critic, and a hard-to-please critic at that. One day in 1956, he came upon a Japanese film titled “Kurutta Kajitsu” (Crazed Fruit), the first film by Ko Nakahira. Stylish and sharp, the film captured Truffaut’s heart.
When he debuted as a director himself two years later, Truffaut didn’t hesitate to acknowledge that Nakahira had influenced his style. His fellow French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard said much the same thing.
Cinephiles in Korea will soon have their first chance to see this influential film, in a Nakahira retrospective that starts tomorrow at Seoul Art Cinema.
Running until Jan. 23, the retrospective features 12 of the director’s films, “Crazed Fruit” included.
Filmed in an impressive 17 days, “Crazed Fruit” depicts a fateful love triangle comprised of a sexually aggressive young man, his feeble younger brother and a femme fatale. Filled with evocative love scenes and speedy and stylish editing, the film made Nakahira a star director in Japan.
Nakahira, who was born in 1926 and died in 1978, made stylish erotic thrillers as well as action comedies, opening a new era in postwar Japanese film. He was known as a stylist who cared less about a story than about how it was presented.
“Crazed Fruit” will not have English subtitles for the retrospective, but two of his other films will: “The Flesh Is Weak” (1958) and “Street Lamp” (1957).
For “The Flesh Is Weak,” based on a novel in which the heroine meets a tragic end after a love affair, Nakahira gave the story an interesting twist.
In the film, the heroine is shaken but never collapses, a change that helps makes the story curiously funny as well as dramatic. “Street Lamp” is a romantic comedy with a sophisticated comedic touch.
The retrospective’s organizers also recommend “Danger Means Money” (1963), about a struggle between four gangsters and an old counterfeiter. With its fast-paced editing and unconventional sense of humor, the film is said to have maintained its appeal for modern audiences.
“Dorodarakeno Junjo” (Purity Stuck in Mud, 1963) is a tearjerker about star-crossed lovers; it was remade in Korea the following year as “Manbarui Cheongchun” (Barefoot Youth). The original remains a classic of its genre in Japan.
Admission to the retrospective is 6,000 won ($6) per screening.


by Chun Su-jin

Seoul Art Cinema is best reached from Anguk station, subway line No. 3, exit 1; walk about 10 minutes in the direction of Art Sonje Center. For more information, call (02) 720-9782 or visit www.cinematheque.seoul.kr.

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