Gubijinso (Poppy). 1935. Japan. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. In Japanese; English subtitles. 73 min.
Screenplay by Haruo Takayanagi, Daisuke Ito, based on a novel by Soseki Natsume. With Daijiro Natsukawa, Ichiro Tsukita, Kazuyoshi Takeda. Ninety percent of prewar Japanese cinema seems to be definitively lost, and of the films that do survive most are known only through poor 16mm duplicates. It is particularly exciting, then, to present the New York premiere of a Kenji Mizoguchi film from 1935 that has been restored from the original nitrate camera negative. The story of a student torn between his engagement to a traditional girl from back home and the Westernized heiress who has won his love in Tokyo, this deft, naturalistic melodrama explores many of the fundamental conflicts in Mizoguchi’s work. Preserved by the National Film Center, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, courtesy of Janus Films. Special thanks to Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordstrom.