After the release of Japan’s first avant-garde feature film, A Page of Madness (Kurutta ippeiji, 1926), director Teinosuke Kinugasa retreated to safer ground with commercial jidai-geki films before his next attempt at raising the nation’s cinema art. Set in Tokyo’s Yoshiwara pleasure district, Crossways was described by its director as a “chambara without swordfights” and was heavily influenced by German Expressionism.
Rikiya is in love with the unattainable geisha O-Ume. Stealing a kimono his sister Okiku is making in an attempt to win her over, he heads over to visit her and declare his love. Unfortunately his rival for O-Ume’s affections publicly humiliates him by tearing it to shreds in front of the baying crowd at the archery ground where she plies her trade and temporarily blinds him by flinging ash into his eyes. The irate Rikiya retaliates by lunging with his sword at his rival, who promptly falls to the ground. Believing he has committed a murder, Rikiya flees back to the lodgings he shares with his sister and awaits his fate.
Crossways is a visual tour-de-force, unfolding in such powerful sequences as the series of hallucinations that accompany Rikiya’s nursing back to health by his sister – a disturbing series of superimpositions and dissolves of spinning archery targets and painted geishas parading around the gaudy streets of Yoshiwara’s pleasure quarters. Crossways became the first Japanese film to be screened widely outside of Japan when it opened in Berlin, as Im Schatten des Yoshiwara (The Shadows of Yoshiwara). It showed in several cities across Europe, including London in 1930, and is also known by the titles Crossroads or Slums of Tokyo.’ (Zipangu Festival) Crossways is presented in partnership with Zipangu Festival and with a new score from Minima.
Recommended Cert PG.