This month’s Tora-san screening at the Mitaka City Arts Center is bittersweet, as it is the last one of the year. Though happy they will be continuing the series next year, that means I have to wait another half year. However, this Saturday has two of the better entries in the series. I have a feeling the entire Otoko wa Tsurai Yo series will be digitally “restored” for the 50th anniversary in 2019, so this might be your last chance to see them in their natural state as films.
Tora-san’s Sunrise and Sunset
This is actually second time that this film graces this blog. Easily one of my favorites, somedays I might even say its my favorite. The best Tora-san films are those that don’t match up with the stereotype, and this is one of them. Tora’s relationship with the male companion (Jūkichi Uno) is just as important as that with his madonna (Kiwako Taichi). Nor is the relationship with the madonna is not one of a failed love story, either. Scenes in Jimbocho and Tatsuno in Hyogo along with sharp portrayals of class and and urban/rural differences round out one of the best in the series.
Tora’s Pure Love
I believe this film I have seen only once, but it is quite memorable. First is because the Madonna is actually a few years older than Kiyoshi Atsumi, who portrays Tora-san. She is also Machiko Kyo, who, like Jūkichi Uno who co-stars in #17, is another famous immediate post-war film star who stared in, among others, several Akira Kurosawa films. Another interesting aspect of the film is Kyo’s character is also Catholic. Religion plays a part in many aspects of Tora-san films, from Gozen-sama and Taishakuten in Shibamata to the number of other religious figures, ceremonies, and buildings that appear throughout the films, sometimes as a major plot point, sometimes just as background.
Cost to see both films is 1000 yen The morning showings start at 11 AM, the afternoon showings, where I will be, start at 4 PM. During the intermission between the two films the food from the restaurant located inside the Center, Comrade, is on sale in the lobby.