An actor's revenge

Front Cover
British Film Institute, 1995 - History - 55 pages
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An Actor's Revenge is one of the masterworks of the modern Japanese cinema. Visually stunning, with some of the most imaginative widescreen camera-work ever seen, the film exemplifies director Kon Ichikawa's self description: 'I was trained as a painter and I strill think like one'. How Ichikawa transforms a melodramatic tale into a total cinematic experience is vividly analysed in fellow artist Ian Breakwell's sympathetic study.
An Actor's Revenge tells the bizarre story of Yukinojo, a nineteenth century Kabuki female impersonator who employs his theatrical skills to deceives and destroy the merchants who caused the death of his parents. Ichikawa's film is a remake, thirty years later, of Teinosuke Kinugasa's 1936 box-office smash, using the same actor, Kazuo Hasegawa, in the twin roles of transvestite Yukinojo and virile thief Yamitaro.
What might have been a mere gimmick proved an inspired stroke of casting. Breakwell acclaims Hasegawa's dual performance as one of the cinema's greatest displays of acting, in which the highly artificial conventions of Japanese theatre are mobilised in a dazzling play on the mysteries of identity and sexuality. An Actor's Revenge is one of the masterworks of the modern Japanese cinema. Visually stunning, with some of the most imaginative widescreen camera-work ever seen, the film exemplifies director Kon Ichikawa's self description: 'I was trained as a painter and I strill think like one'. How Ichikawa transforms a melodramatic tale into a total cinematic experience is vividly analysed in fellow artist Ian Breakwell's sympathetic study.
An Actor's Revenge tells the bizarre story of Yukinojo, a nineteenth century Kabuki female impersonator who employs his theatrical skills to deceives and destroy the merchants who caused the death of his parents. Ichikawa's film is a remake, thirty years later, of Teinosuke Kinugasa's 1936 box-office smash, using the same actor, Kazuo Hasegawa, in the twin roles of transvestite Yukinojo and virile thief Yamitaro.
What might have been a mere gimmick proved an inspired stroke of casting. Breakwell acclaims Hasegawa's dual performance as one of the cinema's greatest displays of acting, in which the highly artificial conventions of Japanese theatre are mobilised in a dazzling play on the mysteries of identity and sexuality.

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About the author (1995)

Ian Breakwell is renowned as a multi-media artist, diarist and video-maker. He draws on all these sources of experience to provide the essential commentary on a film steeped in Japanese culture and history.

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