Directed by Mikio Naruse

Directed by Mikio Naruse

16 Episodes

Though less well-known today than his contemporaries Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, and Kenji Mizoguchi, Mikio Naruse was one of Japanese cinema’s classical masters—a virtuoso of melodrama who specialized in portraying the personal and social struggles of women with supreme sensitivity. In a career that spanned from 1930 to 1967, he directed nearly 90 films, including silent dramas like APART FROM YOU, EVERY-NIGHT DREAMS and STREET WITHOUT END, in which he poignantly etched the experiences of working women carrying on in the face of everyday disappointments and compromises in an often cruelly sexist society. Continuing to explore these themes throughout his career, Naruse’s artistry reached its zenith in the 1950s, when, working with renowned leads like Hideko Takamine, Kinuyo Tanaka, and Setsuko Hara, he directed a string of devastating melodramas—including LATE CHRYSANTHEMUMS, FLOATING CLOUDS, FLOWING, and WHEN A WOMAN ASCENDS THE STAIRS—that elevated the genre to heartrending new heights, abetted by a feeling for delicate, rhythmic editing that could build with subtle but shattering emotional force.

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Directed by Mikio Naruse
  • Flunky, Work Hard

    Episode 1

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1931 • Japan
    Starring Isamu Yamaguchi, Tomoko Naniwa, Seiichi Kato

    Mikio Naruse’s earliest available film, FLUNKY, WORK HARD is the rare work by the director not to center around female characters. It is a charming, breezy short concerning an impoverished insurance sal...

  • No Blood Relation

    Episode 2

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1932 • Japan

    In No Blood Relation, a gripping early example of Mikio Naruse's cinematic boldness, featuring a screenplay by Ozu's famed collaborator Kogo Noda, an actress returns to Tokyo after a successful stint in Hollywood to reclaim, with the help of her gangster b...

  • Apart from You

    Episode 3

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1933 • Japan

    For Apart from You, Mikio Naruse turned his camera on the lives of working women, which he would continue to do throughout his long career. In this gently devastating drama, a critical breakthrough for the director, he contrasts the life of an aging geisha...

  • Every-Night Dreams

    Episode 4

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1933 • Japan

    In the formally ravishing Every-Night Dreams, set in the dockside neighborhoods of Tokyo, a single mother works tirelessly as a Ginza bar hostess to ensure a better life for her young son, until her long-lost husband returns.

  • Street Without End

    Episode 5

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1934 • Japan

    Mikio Naruse's final silent film is a gloriously rich portrait of a waitress, Sugiko, whose life, despite a host of male admirers and even some intrigued movie talent scouts, ends up taking a suffocatingly domestic turn after a wealthy businessman accident...

  • Ginza Cosmetics

    Episode 6

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1951 • Japan

    Italy is usually cited as the anchor of the neo-realist movement in cinema, but Mikio Naruse's Ginza Cosmetics (1951) is a reminder that Japan had its own output equally rooted in realism. Set in Tokyo's Ginza district, this low-key, lyrical unassuming acc...

  • Repast

    Episode 7

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1951 • Japan
    Starring Setsuko Hara, Ken Uehara, Yukiko Shimazaki

    A watershed work in the career of master director Mikio Naruse, REPAST marked the beginning of his extraordinary late-career renaissance. The first of a string of adaptations that Naruse would direct base...

  • Mother

    Episode 8

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1952 • Japan

    Mikio Naruse's 1952 Mother (aka Okaasan) is rather more upbeat (and, at times, even light-hearted) than his better-known later movies. Kinuyo Tanaka (who later became Japanese cinema's first woman director) quietly dominates the screen throughout as the fi...

  • Wife

    Episode 9

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1953 • Japan

    A novel by Fumiko Hiyashi provided that basis for this unusual work by Mikio Naruse -- Wife (aka Tsuma) (1953) tells the story of a decade-old marriage in the process of disintegrating. Opening and closing with the same sequence of the husband silently lea...

  • Late Chrysanthemums

    Episode 10

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1954 • Japan

    As one might infer from its title, Mikio Naruse’s LATE CHRYSANTHEMUMS (1954) is a very autumnal film, laced with nostalgia and sadness for its characters—Haruko Sugimura (FLOATING WEEDS, TOKYO STORY) portrays Kin, a former geisha who has parlayed her ear...

  • Sound of the Mountain

    Episode 11

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1954 • Japan
    Starring Setsuko Hara, Ken Uehara, So Yamamura

    Mikio Naruse’s THE SOUND OF THE MOUNTAIN (YAMA NO OTO) was one of the director’s personal favorites among his own movies. The story concerns a woman, Kukiko (Setsuko Hara), trapped in a loveless marriage to Ot...

  • Floating Clouds

    Episode 12

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1955 • Japan

    Set in Japan after World War II, a young woman fights to find happiness in spite of the betrayals of her lover.

  • Flowing

    Episode 13

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1956 • Japan
    Kinuyo Tanaka, Isuzu Yamada, Hideko Takamine

    One of director Mikio Naruse’s most sublime achievements traces the fortunes of a geisha house struggling to survive in the face of a changing society. As seen through the eyes of the establishment’s new maid (K...

  • When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

    Episode 14

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1960 • Japan
    Starring Hideko Takamine, Masayuki Mori, Reiko Dan

    WHEN A WOMAN ASCENDS THE STAIRS might be Japanese filmmaker Mikio Naruse’s finest hour, a delicate, devastating study of a woman, Keiko (played heartbreakingly by Hideko Takamine), who works as a bar hoste...

  • Yearning

    Episode 15

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1964 • Japan

    Mikio Naruse's Yearning (1964) is a story of an extended family tragedy growing out of the Second World War. Hideko Takamine stars as a young widow whose husband is killed in the war, and her business all-but-wiped out in a bombing raid -- in his memory sh...

  • Scattered Clouds

    Episode 16

    Directed by Mikio Naruse • 1967 • Japan

    Mikio Naruse closed out his career in 1967 with Scattered Clouds (aka Two In the Shadow aka Midaregumo), a mix of melodrama and tragedy involving two people drawn together in an socially impermissible relationship -- Yoko Tsukasa plays the wife who finds h...