by guest writer
Midaregumo (Scattered Clouds, or Two in the Shadow in a different translation, 1967) was to be Mikio Naruse’s last film. With an impressive career started back in 1930, this counted as number ninety-one in his filmography. Little known outside of Japan until a decade ago, the director succeeded to have his first smash hit in the US back in 1935 with his movie called Tsuma yo bara no yo ni aka Wife! Be Like a Rose!. The simplicity of the approach within the main theme, which is a melodrama, is what makes Scattered Clouds a legendary film. The opening shot takes place in a restaurant where Yumiko (Yôko Tsukasa) and her husband celebrate his promotion. We are led to think that their making plans for their future in the US announces happy times ahead. Suddenly, the mood of the film changes when real life strikes and the family’s dreams are scattered and Yumiko’s life goes through a downfall.
She meets Mr. Mishima (Yûzô Kayama) because of a tragic event that draws them together and that will also keep them apart. The two leading characters are faultlessly played by the talented actors with such dedication, and the entire film is able to transmit such deep emotions in a way that the American cinema never has and even European movies have rarely succeeded. The beautiful Japanese landscapes add an air of completion, which are also in tune with the characters’ troubled feelings. The director’s filming method is a very lucrative one, lots of short takes with crafted editing. The final scene and the ending ensure Scattered Clouds as an unforgettable cinema moment which won’t leave you indifferent.
photo: still from the film from the Criterion DVD edition (unfortunately it’s not currently available on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com)/ credit: Toho Company