Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:
Tomu Uchida is one of those great Japanese filmmakers who remains virtually unknown in the West. This 1955 work of his is a road movie; it deals with the transient relationships forged among a group of individuals during a trip to Edo. In form it recalls Hiroshi Shimizu’s delicate travel poems, but the tone is much different: it’s earthy, comedic, populist, a little like Ozu’s “Good Morning.” (In fact, Shimizu and Ozu served as advisors on the production — how’s that for backup?) The social commentary is sometimes a little too on the nose, and some of the plot developments come close to being maudlin, but the production is so well constructed that it scarcely matters. It has a neatness of effect that Maupassant might be proud of — and I suspect Maupassant was an influence, possibly via the mediator of John Ford’s “Stagecoach.”
- A nice write-up of Uchida’s career, which includes a discussion of “Spear.”
- A good lengthy review, which claims that “Spear” includes “the best fart joke ever in a samurai film.”
- Dan Sallitt on one of Uchida’s ’30s films, “Earth.” I love this bit: “If only we could talk openly about the online sources that supply films like Earth, we could rhapsodize about an amazing second childhood for film buffs, in which fan subtitling is unlocking a seemingly endless supply of treasures from foreign countries, and sheer accumulation is creating archives that dwarf any brick-and-mortar institution. But we can’t talk openly.” True dat.