'Flowing' is next film in Japanese masters series

The next movie in the Masters of Japanese Cinema series is Naruse Mikio’s 1956 masterpiece "Flowing." It will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 1at the Pickford Film Center in downtown Bellingham.

In "Flowing," Naruse brings his sympathetic but unsentimental approach to a story of a geisha house that is facing closure. Described by series curator and Western Washington University librarian Jeff Purdue as a beautifully photographed film, "Flowing" provides the platform for one of Naruse’s sensitive character studies of women struggling against the odds to maintain their independence and dignity.  Purdue, who will also introduce the film, places "Flowing" among his "Top Ten" picks, stating that the ending "is one of the most remarkable in any film I've seen."

The drama plays out in quiet conversations and muted glances, with the occasional outburst, demonstrating what Akira Kurosawa said about Naruse's style: "like a great river with a calm surface and a raging current in its depths." "Flowing" features a remarkable cast, including three leads who are widely considered to be some of the greatest actors in Japanese history: Takamine Hideko, Tanaka Kinuyo and Isuzu Yamada, each of whom headlined numerous films on their own.

The film also includes a very strong supporting cast of veterans and up-and-comers, including Sugimura Haruko, memorable from many character roles in Ozu films, and Okada Mariko, who was still fairly new in her career. Kurishima Sumiko, who was one of the first female actors in Japan and one of their biggest stars during the 1920s, is another supporting actresses with a powerful presence.

Co-sponsored by Western Libraries and the Pickford Film Center, the Masters of Japanese Cinema is one of the Pickford's longest running and most loved series, featuring some of the best films in World Cinema with movies that span both decades and genres. Each film in the series begins with an introduction from select speakers including local professors, artists, and educators.

To learn more about upcoming films featured in this series, click on this link. If you have questions about the Masters of Japanese Cinema series, contact Jeff.Purdue@wwu.edu.

Scene from the film 'Flowing,' which will be screened at The Pickford Cinema March 1.
Scene from the film 'Flowing,' which will be screened at The Pickford Cinema March 1.