Full autumn moon—
on the straw mat,
Robo no ishi, translated as A Pebble by the Wayside or A Roadside Stone, is one of the masterpieces of 1930s Japanese cinema. Directed by Tomotaka Tasaka who started his career about ten years prior within the 'tendency film' movement, this film can in many ways be seen as a descendent of that socially-conscious strain of cinema popular in the years immediately following the more liberal Taisho period. It contains the kind of incisive story often found in eiga-ka (literature…
As with any project approximating this kind of approach to a politico-historical theme, there is a selection of material here that necessarily chooses certain things while leaving other things out. Obviously, there is thus a danger of misrepresentation in how this theme—only ever something partial—is represented as relating to the social totality. This series discusses the failures of revolutionary movements and the destruction of gains made by the labour movements in the West which led to the extension of the…
"He's a businessman, not an enemy."
Like all of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's best films, the transformations that this narrative undergoes operate as if the central character's perceptions of the conflicts around them have been extended into the form of the film itself. What struck me most immediately about this work was its interest in the conflict between cosmopolitan business interests—always seeking to supersede state boundaries and borders—and the interests of the nation-state, tied inextricably to a sense of irrationalism, which are…