Keisuke Kinoshita 木下惠介 was a wonderful filmmaker. In the half-dozen films of his I’ve seen, he creates an effective balance between humor and sadness, optimism and cynicism. Visually, his use of real-world locations provides a rich visual library of what Tokyo and Japan looked like in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s.
In The Eternal Rainbowこの天の虹 (1958), the real-life Yawata Steel Works 八幡製鉄所 (map) in Kitakyushu 北九州市 is one of the film’s main characters. Although the film is de facto propaganda for the steel company, it is good propaganda. And it’s good for history fanatics. The establishing shots and transitional scenes show us what this Japanese steel town looked like in 1958.
Inside the factory, hot steel spins through the machines like spaghetti:
The danchi 団地 apartment building complexes:
A moment of beauty (?) on the hillside:
Kinoshita (or his cinematographer) often worked with a wide lens and would pan left to right (or right to left) for almost…
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