Kon Ichikawa is a masterful director whose work is so eclectic that it is often overlooked in favour of his more famous and consistent colleagues Kurosawa and Ozu (who Ichikawa worked under). But that is a shame, because Ichikawa also directed some of the most exquisite films to ever come out of Japan. This is one of them. Based on Soseki Natsume's legendary novel of the same name, "Kokoro" (called 'The Heart' in English but it is not a perfect translation as the word 'kokoro' has a deeper meaning in Japanese in between heart, mind & soul), this is essentially a tragic story, yet it is so much more than just that. It encompasses themes of honour, duty, history, memory, friendship, love, Buddhism, and many others. Ichikawa rarely repeats the same shot and the film is visually interesting throughout. It is a pity that this film has had hardly any reviews as I consider it to be up there with Ichikawa's "The Burmese Harp" in terms of its impact. It should be more well-known. Kudos to Masters of Cinema for taking a risk and releasing the film with a great transfer on DVD. Too bad there aren't any video or audio extras to add some additional value for hesitant buyers, but I understand that they may not have had a budget for that in this case.
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