The Films of Keisuke Kinoshita

The Scent of Incense

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The Scent of Incense
Koge | Keisuke Kinoshita, 1964
Japan | Format: 35mm | 201 minutes

The success of The River Fuefuki encouraged Kinoshita to return to period filmmaking once again with this “epic” chamber drama about a geisha mother and her daughter. Based on the popular novel by Ariyoshi Sawako, the story begins as Ikuyo (Nobuko Otowa) is forced into prostitution from poverty; she soon becomes known as a woman who will agree to her clients’ basest desires. Although shielded from her mother’s profession, her daughter Tomoko (Mariko Okada) is deeply ashamed by her mother’s degradation—while still accepting her financial support. But when Mariko attracts the attention of a boy from a well-to-do family, the danger arises that he might discover Mariko’s secret. Kinoshita ventures into Mizoguchi territory here, with a decided difference: he never shies away from showing the harshness of a prostitute’s life. The two leads work beautifully together, capturing the closeness that still exists even in the most troubled relationship between a mother and her daughter.

Series: The Films of Keisuke Kinoshita

Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

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