Tree Without Leaves | Chicago Reader

Tree Without Leaves

Japanese director Kaneto Shindo (The Naked Island) shot this 1986 feature in black-and-white, with deliberately cold and unemphatic lighting; the story seems to take place in a world drained of all color. The protagonist, an aging screenwriter, has retired to a remote lodge to write a book about his Depression-era childhood, and the film consists largely of flashbacks. Many concern his family's dissolution--his father has to sell off their generations-old estate; his older siblings leave home to join the Imperial Army or to marry foreigners--but even the genteel moments are notably devoid of nostalgia. It's a clinically observant work about a terminally detached person. Shindo's strategies might feel punishing at first, but they cumulate to powerful effect, revealing a man paralyzed by longing for the past. In Japanese with subtitles.

Credits

Director:

  • Kaneto Shindô

Cast:

  • Keiju Kobayashi
  • Nobuko Otowa
  • Ichirô Zaitsu

Producer:

  • Setsuo Noto

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