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Hanare goze Orin 1977
Description: A blind traveling musician is abused and oppressed wherever she goes, even as the modern globe imposes change around her.
Released: 01 Oct 1978 Director: Masahiro Shinoda Writers: Keiji Hasebe, Tsutomu Minakami (novel), Masahiro Shinoda Actors: Shima Iwashita, Tomoko Naraoka, Kirin Kiki, Rie Yokoyama Genres: Drama
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Hanare goze Orin Reviews:

Goodness, easy one of my favourite Shinoda movies and a favourite Japanese Fresh Wave movie in general, this one is definitely work seeking out. Iwashita Shima (Shinoda's wife) plays Orin, a "goze" Goze were specifically blind itinerant singers, traveling alone or in groups, who initially became famous around the Edo period. The last of the goze died this past April (2005) and at one time there were around a thousand goze in Japan. The movie lets you know early on that (in this time period) blind girls can either do this or be prostitutes (the latter of which is an necessary difference, as sexual relations is an expellable offense in the group.) This is turn of the century Japan, during the end of the Meiji era while the Russo-Japanese fight was going on, and you're made well aware of the time period during the movie (it struck me as a feminist critique of modern society as well as a drama.) Orin's love affairs, some undesired, fill a relatively austere movie with bursts of sexuality. Her love life is eventually a tragic one, however, and the movie does not pull any punches. The full screen cinematography is stunning, with every shot flattened out into a artful expression. The melody of this movie plays a huge part (scored like almost all of Shinoda's movies by Takemitsu Toru) and is unforgettable. Orin and her shamisen stayed in my mind for some time. Highly highly recommended.


This is in my top 10 list of films. This is a beautiful, moving film. It is also probably one of the most tragic movies I have seen. It got an inexplicably tepid review from Vincent Canby when it premiered in NYC back in 1977 or 1978, which perhaps explains why it was never widely distributed in the US. The movie takes zone during the first decades of the 20th century, following the storyline of Orin, blind from birth, from childhood on. The movie is said largely from her perspective, from a woman's perspective, which is rare in film, especially Japanese films. The another reviewer is mistaken - she does not take her own life, but he is entirely correct that the movie deserves a much, much wider audience than it has received, at least in this country.More than 20 years after seeing this movie, and having searched for it for almost as long, I finally obtained a decent DVD with English subtitles from play-asia.com (Hong Kong). It is listed there as Hanare Goze Orin. It's rather expensive, but worth it, in my opinion. You'll need a region-free player.


Japan is one of the world's more rigid cultures and its nice filmmakers have created equally nice art by saying stories of boys and girls who resist a tyrannous culture, whether embodied in the shogunate, the military, or any another zone of national life. Unlike American films, which usually depict a victorious resister, Japanese movies usually present the resistance ending in defeat--if there is a win it is a moral one.Orin, a blind traveling musician who is expected to remain celebate, is sexually violated and is expelled from her group. An outcast, she ultimately urls up with a young boy who is opposed to Japanese militarism. Although she is "available" to him, he will not take advantage of her, as he resists a culture where hypocrisy reigns and where girls (and men, also) are expected to yield to superior force. He is ultimately destroyed and she takes her own life.Please excuse any inaccuracies in my account; I last saw this movie more than twenty years ago. I felt then, as I do now, that its humanistic perspective connected it to many another nice Japanese films, such as the Kobayashi trilogy and Mizoguchi's "Sansho the Bailiff." It is my sincere hope that it will eventually appear on videocassette or DVD.



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