Kanikousen

Went to see the 1953 film version of the novel by Kobayashi Takiji, soon to be remade with Matsuda Ryuhei starring. On first viewing the film comes across as an interesting mix of Soviet-era agitprop (think Battleship Potemkin in the crowd scenes) and Mutiny on the Bounty, but perhaps a better nautical analogy is to B. Traven’s The Death Ship, although without the latter’s anarchist message, or to Francisco Goldman’s The Ordinary Seaman.

Much of the script is a bit clunky, especially the scenes where the crew struggle to articulate their demands, and the closing shot (of a bloodied Japanese flag and the two ships, symbols of the forces of capital and the military) a bit obvious,but there’s no denying the power this film version would have had on release.

Now to find an English translation of the novel, should such a thing exist.

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3 responses to “Kanikousen

  1. “Japan in the Passing Lane” might be interesting, though I haven’t read it yet.

  2. There is a English translation of the novel.

    Takiji, Kobayashi,. Factory ship” and “The absentee landlord.” Seattle: University of Washington, 1973. Print.

    • Unfortunately it’s out of print, and second hand copies are way out of my league (check Abe Books). Let me know if you find a cheap copy!

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