Black River

1957 [JAPANESE]

Action / Crime / Drama

4
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 787

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
November 17, 2020 at 11:26 AM

720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1013.78 MB
968*720
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 50 min
P/S 7 / 8
1.84 GB
1440*1072
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 50 min
P/S 10 / 12

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by HEFILM 9 / 10

Film noirish look at post war Japanese squalor

The story is set around an American Air Force base which has attracted bars and brothels and the native Japanese who need this sordid world to scape by and make money to just barely survive. A love triangle develops among the dwellers of a falling down apartment building and a local gangster called Killer Joe.

It's a fascinating slice of life with engaging vivid seedy characters, these type of shanty towns always develop around military bases, I can't think of any other films I've seen that take place there. It's a rare look into the postwar lower middle class and lower end criminal element in Japan. Fast moving and convincing well worth watching if you can find it. Memorable ending and last image to a memorable film.

Reviewed by co_oldman 9 / 10

I Prefer My Rivers Black

No one is innocent in the post-war Japan depicted in Masaki Kobayashi's Black River. The film focuses on a love triangle: the straight-laced bookseller Nishida and Yakuza gangbanger Joe compete for the affections of the bourgeois local girl Shizuko. The American military base looms large in the film but the action takes place outside of it, mostly in a nearby shantytown. Although he regards the American presence as pernicious, Kobayashi is clear as to where responsibility rests for immoral behaviour and deficiencies in character, namely, the individual and society as a whole.

Kobayashi challenges preconceived notions as to whether people of a certain class are virtuous or vicious. Appearances may reinforce the moral decay of a character, such as the rotten teeth of the unscrupulous landlord, or conceal it in the case of the beautiful and virginal Shizuko. In a disturbing scene, not one tenant is willing to donate blood to a man who is critically ill--not even his own wife. Nishida at least deigns to admit that, in spite of having the correct blood type, he does not want to donate his blood. He may feel that the man, apparently less educated and of a lower class than him, is unworthy of his blood. However, his refusal is as callous and cowardly as that of the other tenants, exposing his apparent nobility as a mere façade.

Black River exhibits the characteristic influence of film noir whose origin is American popular culture. Just as the presence of the American military corrupts Japanese society in the film, American culture has, as it were, corrupted Black River. Kobayashi paints in black and white a quasi-dystopian picture of a society that, having abandoned its principles, has descended into paranoia and mutual sabotage. The stylized and disinterested depictions of characters betray a moral ambivalence to their actions. Sultry jazz music, a distinctly American genre, provides the score of the film. Like the cinematography, its expression suggests that sordid deeds, places, and people are at hand.

In general, Kobayashi juggles the large cast of characters skillfully. However, their number can distract from the film's main plot about the love triangle, leading to a loss of focus and making it difficult to identify with any one character. Humour often shines through the dark subject matter, notably in a quarrel about emptying outhouses and the use of communal space. Like most film noir, Black River occasionally wavers into campiness and mannerism.

Kobayashi crafts a powerful ending to commit the metaphorical assassination of Shizuko's character. Once again, the Americans act as an accomplice but crucially not as the malefactor, the person ultimately responsible. Perhaps for the first time in the film, a character reflects on her own behaviour and is profoundly disgusted. Contemporary viewers will likely, as I did, have more sympathy for some characters and forgive them in light of the ordeals they have experienced or the circumstances in which they live. Nonetheless, Kobayashi makes a powerful argument, not to mention an excellent film that will appeal to fans of post-war cinema, film noir, and Japanese culture.

Reviewed by frankde-jong 7 / 10

Kobayashi's version of Street of shame

Although Masaki Kobayashi belongs to the generation after Yasujiro Ozu, he is in particular known for his triloogy about Japan during the Second World War ("The human condition" 1959 - 1961), while Ozu portrays the Japanese middle class during the years after Worldwar II. In this somewhat lesser known film Kobayashi focusses also on the postwar years. His subject is however not the middle class but people on the fringes of society. In this respect the film is more like a Mizoguchi film than like an Ozu film.

The story seems to be about a girl who has to choose between a poor student (the good guy) and a petty criminal who can afford to offer her more luxury (the bad guy). In reality the story is however much broader than this. We meet the inhabitants of an appartment complex nearby an American army compound (one of which is the aforementioned poor student). The landlord tries to throw them out of their houses so she can start a brothel. Althoug the story of the student and the the girl is predominant, we also learn something about the other inhabitants. The film takes on some elements of the ensemble film and can be compared with "Street of shame" (1956, Kenji Mizoguchi).

The image that Kobayashi presents of the Japanese society is not a favourable one. The American occupiers do not have a positive influence. On numerous occasions a jet fighter is flying over causing an immense roar, just to make clear how annoying the presence of American soldiers realy is. The question is how fair this kind of framing is. To be sure the American soldiers without any doubt are responsible for the demand for prostitutes. The supply of these prostitutes and the real estate corruption that surrounds the establishment of the brothel are however of a Japanese making.

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