She was like a dandelion.
A man who had chosen to be a novelist.
His darkness was profound, and would not go away.
But if he looked hard, there was his wife,
like a single small flower.
For that flower, being stepped on
is a matter of course.
From where it grows among the rocks
it gazes upon its own existence.
We have taken a glimpse
of that resilient being.
misfortune is not such a grievous thing.
Why did she go on loving a prodigal?
The essence of man and woman portrayed in a profound, grown-up love story like none ever told before.
This is the love story of Otani, a man who drinks away all his money and more, who is constantly unfaithful, but a novelist of talent and a strange appeal that makes him impossible to hate; and his wife Sachi, always cheerful and accommodating even as he tramples all over her.
The story is set in the period of upheaval immediately following World War II. In a time when it was difficult to be optimistic about the countryfs future, its men were at their witsf end trying to respond to a sudden shift in values and the crumbling of moral strictures. The women, on the other hand, were trying amidst this confusion to be strong, and to keep their eyes on the future. The women of modern Japan have established their place in society, and acquired the strength to carve out their own path. But have they not perhaps lost the eflexibilityf possessed by the women of the 1940s and 50s to take things as they come? In the eyes of those around her, Sachi might seem unfortunate in the difficulties to which her husband subjects her. She, however, never loses heart. She understands his weakness, his gentleness, his unwavering sincerity; she is drawn to him, and embraces him. The Japanese woman of today will see a freshness and a purity within her.
Villonfs Wife: The Dandelion and the Cherry, with its portrayal of the essential qualities brought together of subtlety in a man and flexibility in a woman, combines the bitter and the sweet in a vintage love story for adults.
Why does Sachi go on loving the prodigal Otani? You will know when you have seen the film. And the spectacle of Otani and Sachi, at last truly man and wife, is sure to inspire.
2009 marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Osamu Dazai! Through changing times, his fiction has never lost its appeal. In a time of growing frustration, his classic short story Villonfs Wife, with its portrayal of a woman looking to the future, now comes to the screen!
2009 is the centennial of the birth of Osamu Dazai (1909-1948), whose many classics continue to be wildly popular. Anyone who reads has at one time or another opened a book by him. Adding in those who have read stories such as Run, Melos, Run in school textbooks, it can surely be said that most Japanese are familiar with his work. No Longer Human is a long-time best-seller, with more than 6 million copies sold in paperback alone. Why is Osamu Dazai so loved? This is probably because people of any age identify with, and are moved by, the ehumanf plight of his characters. While the over-riding image is one of decadence, what can be said to mark his work is the finely drawn psychological portraits of women, and his overflowing sarcasm and irony. His genius is clearly apparent in Villonfs Wife. (Franois Vicllon was a French poet of the late middle ages, a precursor of modern poetry, who in spite of being highly educated lived an unsettled life of flight from justice and imprisonment.) Dazaifs proteLgeL Kiyoshi Koyama said, eWhenever I read this work I feel relief, as if a burden had been set down. It gives me the strength to go on.f The figure of the woman who is its main character, cheerful and stout-hearted no matter what the confusion swirling around her, imparts a sense of exhilaration to the reader. Particularly in this time of deadened emotional response, surely the great Dazai short story Villonfs Wife can give people ethe will to livef.
In writing the script for Villonfs Wife: The Dandelion and the Cherry, Yozo Tanaka has used the short story Villonfs Wife as a basis on which he has combined his own originality with the essence of such other Dazai tales as Memories, Lantern, Putting Granny Out to Die, The Katydid, Cherry, and A Standard-Bearer of the Twentieth Century. The words edandelionf and echerryf connect Otani and Sachi in this film to other well-known Dazai works. Cherry is the title of a short story, while edandelionf is a reference to a line in A Standard-Bearer of the Twentieth Century: eWishing for the reliability of a single dandelion, wanting Sachi as a single leaf to soothe me, I wasted a life.f Otani is the echerryf, easily damaged but loved for its sweetness, while Sachi is the edandelionf, able to grow anywhere, sincere in its beauty.
The centennial of Dazaifs birth sees a Dazai film unlike no other.
Takako Matsu, Tadanobu Asano. Director Kichitaro Negishi, Scriptwriter Yozo Tanaka
The best of Japanfs actors and filmmakers!
In the leading role of Sachi is Takako Matsu, who in such highly rated TV dramas as Love Generation and Hero, films like The Hidden Blade, Suite Dreams, and Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Sometimes Dad, and in live theater as well has compiled a glittering resume marked by the stage presence of her acting technique. Here she gives a shining performance as a wife, driven from pillar to post by her errant husband, still determined to live life to its fullest, in the first true leading feature-film role of her career. She is sure to break new ground in her first married screen role. Tadanobu Asano features as her husband Otani: he is a sustaining figure in the Japanese film world, and well-known internationally as well for such films as Mongol, which was nominated in the U.S. for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Film. He gives a subtle yet bold performance as the feckless and dissipated Otani, closely resembling Dazai himself. A glittering cast of established stars in supporting roles includes Shigeru Muroi, Masato Ibu, Ryoko Hirosue, Satoshi Tsumabuki, and Shinichi Tsutsumi. The script is by Yozo Tanaka, known for such films as Zigeunerweisen and Sailor Suit and Machine Gun. Visualizing Takako Matsu as the lead character from Villonfs Wife, he spent five years writing the script, of which Matsu says, eI have the feeling that the world of Villonfs Wife is one that no Japanese can avoid,f burning with a quiet determination to make it the defining role of her career. Directing is Kichitaro Negishi, known in Japan and abroad for such films as Distant Thunder, Bonds, What the Snow Brings, and Dog in a Sidecar. With a talent for maximizing the appeal of an original story, he is one of Japanfs representative film directors. Production Design is by Yohei Taneda, of Swallowtail Butterfly, Kill Bill : Vol. 1, Twixt Calm & Passion, and The Magic Hour, while Kazuko Kurosawa, of The Hidden Blade, Love and Honor, and Silk, has designed the costumes.
Bringing together the top cast and staff members of the Japanese film world, the result is a luxurious film of quiet beauty.
Tokyo, in the confusion following World War II.
One night Kichizo (Masato Ibu) and his wife Miyo (Shigeru Muroi), who run a small restaurant, pursue a feckless and drunken novelist, Otani (Tadanobu Asano) to his home after he has left their establishment not only without paying his bill, but stealing the large sum of 5,000 into the bargain. As Otanifs wife Sachi (Takako Matsu) intervenes in the argument between him and the couple, he flees.
The next morning Sachi goes to Kichizo and Miyofs establishment, the eTsubakiyaf, to somehow stop them reporting the incident to the police. There she cheerfully blurts out that she will be able to pay back the money. No matter what dilemma she is in, she remains positive. To pay off her husbandfs long accumulated liquor bill, she undertakes from that day to work at the Tsubakiya. She takes to the work like a fish to water, and her good cheer and her beauty fill the place with customers. Receiving a tip from a customer, she becomes aware of her own appeal. eI can make you money, canft I,f she says innocently. Having stepped out into the world, Sachi comes more and more to shine.
Otani, wandering from one bar to the next, falling deeper into debt, constantly unfaithful, on the rare occasions when he does come home wails as if he is being pursued by something, and begs Sachi for help. Then he wanders out again, dispirited. He is a successful novelist, but almost none of the money he makes ever reaches home.
Hardly ever seeing him there, Sachi is able to meet him at Tsubakiya. She is pleased and happy about this. When she speaks of this to Otani, he answers that ea woman knows neither joy nor grief. A man knows only grief.f
From working at Tsubakiya, Sachi encounters a serious young machinist, Okada (Satoshi Tsumabuki), and an old boyfriend, the lawyer Tsuji (Tsutsumi Shinichi). Sachi is torn...knowing this, or perhaps not, Otani resolves to join Akiko (Ryoko Hirosue), a bar hostess, in a love-suicide.
How can Sachi remain cheerful whatever happens?
How can she continue to love a man like Otani, who treats her so badly?
Kichitaro Negishi: Director
Debuting in 1978 with From Orionfs Testimony: Formula for Murder, Negishi won the Blue Ribbon Award as Best Director and the Agency for Cultural Affairs Prize with Distant Thunder (81), establishing himself as one of Japanfs foremost avant-garde filmmakers. What the Snow Brings (05) won in four categories including Grand Prix at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and in 2007 he directed Dog in a Sidecar, from the Akutagawa Prize-winning novel by Yu Nagashima. With a wide reputation both inside Japan and abroad, he is one of the countryfs representative film directors.
Cabaret Nights (82)
Detective Story (83)
Flakes of Snow (85)
Eien no 1/2 (87)
Translucent Tree (04)
Yozo Tanaka: Script
Part of the scenario-writing seminar during his time at Waseda University, he worked for Nikkatsu, and then with Hachiro Guryu, a script-writing team formed around director Seijun Suzuki. In 2004 he worked with director Kichitaro Negishi on Translucent Tree.
Zigeunerweisen (80, directed by Seijun Suzuki)
Heat-Haze Theatre (81, Seijun Suzuki)
Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (81, Shinji Somai)
Shanghai Rhapsody (84, Kinji Fukasaku)
Lost Chapter of Snow: Passion (85, Shinji Somai)
Kuroi doresu no onna (87, Yoichi Sai)
Luminous Woman (87, Shinji Somai)
Yumeji (91, Seijun Suzuki)
Ghost Pub (94, Takayoshi Watanabe)
Shin izakaya yurei (96, Takayoshi Watanabe)
The Hundred Miles to Heaven (00, Yoshiki Hayakawa)
Takahide Shibanushi: Director of Photography
An independent cinematographer since 1996, he has worked over a wide range from independent art films to big-budget cinema releases. His best-known films include Bright Future (03, Kiyoshi Kurosawa), Gege (04, Itsumichi Isomura), Swing Girls (04, Shinobu Yaguchi), Be With You (04, Nobuhiro Doi), Dororo (07, Akihiko Shiota), and The Investigation Game (07, Tomoyuki Takimoto).
Yohei Taneda: Production Design
Taneda is an internationally active production designer whose credits include Kill Bill : Vol. 1 (03, Quentin Tarantino). Some of his other well-known films are Swallowtail (96, Shunji Iwai), Twixt Calm and Passion (01, Isamu Nakae), Suite Dreams (06, Koki Mitani), Hula Girls (06, Sang-il Lee), and The Magic Hour (08, Koki Mitani).