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Don’t Pay The Ferryman…

December 23, 2008

Like a lot of things nowadays, what with the intertubes and the eBays, I am constantly astounded by what I can find if I’m resourceful enough. Many years ago I watched a 1960 film called “The Island” or “The Naked Island” or “Hadaka No Shima“. It’s one of those film school standards of another generation that used to be shown, along with, say, Murnau’s “Sunrise” to demonstrate a purely visual style of storytelling: Cinematic narrative technique in it’s most pure and distilled form – it has no dialogue.

The copy I saw was unwatchable: A Video Yesteryear (remember them?) VHS of a panned and scanned beat-up public domain print. Well, I finally found a pristine copy and it was, naturally, a totally different experience.

The film simply follows a family living in the remote West of Japan as they make a day to day existence battling the elements and doing the best they can with what’s available. It’s extremely beautiful and I imagine that Criterion will one day put it out.

So, having small boats and islands on the brain, I noticed Japan Probe has part of a TV documentary about a modern day ferry man…who is 81 years old! I love how the studio audience expresses that unique Japanese quality of being simultaneously appreciative and condescending.

Here’s The link

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