Warau-Iemon(The Movie)

嗤う伊右衛門 [DVD]
嗤う伊右衛門 [DVD]

This is the poster from the movie “Warau-Iemon” by the director Ninagawa Yukio. 

People always complain about movies that are based on their favorite novels.

They always say “The bloody movie was so different from the novel!!” They say “That actor/actress didn’t fit the image of that character!” or “Why did they change the important words from the novel?”

They always think “If a good novel was made into a movie just like the original story, then it also would be a good movie.”

I used to think similar things but recently I found out that I was wrong.

The story in this movie is the same as in the novel. There isn’t anything that Ninagawa added or omitted. All of the episodes, the words that the characters speak and the setting of the story is the same as in the novel.

Also, the actors were good. Karasawa Toshiaki and Koyuki played Iemon and Iwa. Kagawa Teruyuki played Mataichi. They are very good actors and perfectly fit the characters. The other actors were also skilled.

However, this movie is very boring.

It’s probably due to the script and the directing . 

Making a movie be the same as a good novel will not necessarily make a good movie. It is because the techniques of making a good novel completely differ from the techniques of making a good movie.

A novel includes on enormous amount of information, and that a movie is not able to incorporate everything. In novels, writers can deeply describe the feelings of characters in word. They can write inner descriptions which are not expressed on the surface. This is impossible in a movie. A director of movie has to express things another way.

My friend whose job is translation said, “Our job is not limited to translating words into another language according to a dictionary. We need to understand what the writer meant and thought and use the best phrase we can, to expresses the original meaning, as much as possible. Word-for-word translation is just a poor duplicate.”

I think that what she said is also applicable to a drama based on a novel. This “Warau-Iemon” by Ninagawa is just a literal translation of the novel. It appears that Ninagawa just simply changed the episodes in the novel into a motion picture. I think it’s a poor copy.

Also, the music was bad. Not that the music itself is not so bad, but director’s use of it was awfully tasteless. However, It’s well known by many that Ninagawa Yukio has no sense of music.

There is one thing that Ninagawa added in the movie. He showed the scene in which Iwa died, which Kyougoku didn’t describe.

If I heard about the scene without watching the actual movie, I would think that it’s nice because it probably made the story easy to understand.

I was wrong again. When I watched the movie, I understood the reason why Kyougoku didn’t wrote the scene.

In the movie, Iwa appeared where Iemon was, and expressed her feeling for him. The two threw themselves into each other’s arms, then Iwa died while being held by Iemon. He then swore, “You won’t be alone for long.” 

The scene was too sentimental and totally made the movie into a cheap soap opera.

The movie’s subheading was “eternal love.” Of course, the sincere love between Iemon and Iwa was an important theme of the story, but emphasizing it   too much makes me disgusted.

Everything about this movie is deadly tacky.

 However, Kagawa, who played Mataichi, was excellent. He is a very talented actor. I’m a fan of his.

Although there are also other actors who played Mataichi in other movies or TV dramas, Kagawa is the best.

Kagawa can saylong and complicated lines very fluently. He also can express deep feeling with very few words.

 Moreover, Mataichi’s appearance in this movie is very dirty and he really looks like a beggar. I love this. One of the attractive points of this character is that Mataichi is “an ongyo(御行)” that was a beggar monk in the Edo period. He is on the lowest level of the society.

Kagawa’s Mataichi was perfect. I have to recognize Ninagawa’s sense of good acting  at least.


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