Love Suicides at Sonezaki: An Appeal

sonezaki_shinju_01Sorry to burden you with this. I don’t want to use my blog for personal appeals, but I’m hoping someone out there can help. I’ve been trying to view a film called Sonezaki Shinju / Love Suicides at Sonezaki (Midori Kurisaki, 1980), and it’s proving to be a bit of a slippery customer. I can’t even find any pictures from it online, though I’ve seen some stills in a 1989 issue of Cinefantastique.

The film is a rare recording of a bunraku production of the play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, who wrote it specifically for the Japanese puppet theatre. It’s probably the most famous of all his bunraku tragedies. The lead puppeteer was Tamao Yoshida, who was designated a “living national treasure” for his decades of service to Japanese cultural life. It is also, to my knowledge, the only time that the official bunraku troupe were persuaded to take their puppets outdoors for shooting in natural locations. The film was shot by Kazuo Miyagawa, who has an extraordinary track record of cinematography credits working for Ozu, Mizoguchi and Kurosawa. If you’ll excuse a little bit of hyperbole, there is nothing of its kind anywhere in world cinema. And I’d quite like to see it.

sonezaki_shinju_02It was released on laser disc in 1998, but has long since gone out of print. I’ll be happy with VHS or DVD, with or without English subtitles, and I’ll travel a reasonable distance to watch it in an archive. If you think you can help, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m probably needy enough to pay good money. We tend to think that the internet makes all films accessible to us, and I’ve certainly seen a lot of movies that I would otherwise probably never have been able to see, but just as often it teases us with enticing works that are just out of reach…

6 thoughts on “Love Suicides at Sonezaki: An Appeal

  1. Well, I would do, but I don’t have high enough status. I hoping that some random benefactor will be passing by, otherwise I might have to trawl some European film archives. Not planning a visit to Japan anytime soon…

  2. That’s annoying – ask a mod? Otherwise, I wonder whether any (specialist) bootleg sites sell a rip of the LD – the fact that it did have a commercial release at some point makes things a lot easier…

    • Hi, Bernhard. I have a copy now, but no English subtitles. I think it’s possible to follow along if you have a translation of the play. Even if you speak Japanese, I’m told it’s quite hard to follow the archaic language. Email me danrnorth@gmail.com and I’ll see if I can help you.

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