'Twenty-four Eyes' is next Japanese film in series; screening is Jan. 12

The next Masters of Japanese Cinema Series film, Keisuke Kinoshita's "Twenty-four Eyes," will be screened at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, at the Pickford Film Center. The film was the most successful anti-war film at the time it was released, and remains a popular and beloved film in Japan today.

In this film, the highly-regarded actress Takamine Hideko plays a school teacher assigned to a remote town on Shodo Island in the Inland Sea where she has 12 first-year students (hence the twenty-four eyes of the title).

The film follows them from 1928, through the rise of militarism in the 1930s and World War II, and in the years after the end of the war. Among other things, "Twenty-four Eyes" is known for the powerful and effective use of children's songs throughout the film and for eliciting strong emotional responses from its viewers.

Kinoshita is a director who is slowly becoming better known in the West as more of his films become available. He worked primarily in the shoshimin-eiga genre, films about ordinary people set in contemporary times, and he had a long apprenticeship with the man generally acknowledged as the founder of that genre, Shimazu Yasujiro. 

This is the same genre and the same studio (Shochiku) that the renowned Ozu Yasujiro also worked in, meaning that Kinoshita is often somewhat overshadowed by Ozu’s work. But as series curator and librarian at Western Washington University Jeff Purdue explained:

"The fact is that the more one delves into shoshimin films, Shochiku Studio films, and Japanese film more generally from this era, the more riches one discovers."

Co-sponsored by Western Libraries and the Pickford Film Center, the Masters of Japanese Cinema series 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. "Twenty-four Eyes" will be introduced by Jeff Purdue.

To learn more about upcoming films featured in this series, visit the Pickford's website. If you have questions about the Masters of Japanese Cinema Series, contact Jeff.Purdue@wwu.edu.

"Twenty-four Eyes"