Special Series
Free, Mikio Naruse

Sound of the Mountain


Directed by: Mikio Naruse
1954 / 95 minutes / Unclassified all ages

Emotions stirring under the surface of societal norms

Declared to be one of Naruse’s favourite works, Sound of the Mountain tells the complicated story of a post-war Japanese family from the perspective of the patriarch Shingo (Sō Yamamura). The crumbling marriage between his son Shūichi (Ken Uehara) and Kikuko (Setsuko Hara), Shūichi’s clandestine affairs and Shingo’s daughter Fusako’s (Chieko Nakakita) unstable marital life are the thought-provoking events that force Shingo to face how the women in his life are bound to suffering due to inherently unfair social codes. While Kikuko finds herself caught between tradition and modernity, she is uncertain whether she has the right to escape her unhappy marriage in favour of her own integrity and a merrier future.  

Through slow and allusive interchanges and meaningful silences that allow room for poetic contemplation, Naruse’s adaptation of Yasunari Kawabata’s original novel inserts Shingo in a series of disconnects between man and woman, parent and child, forcing him to realise that all he can do for the younger generation is set them free from the failures of their ancestors.  



MIKIO NARUSE: A Glimpse of Japan’s Unsung Master

This film is part of JFF 2022’s Special Series, which proudly presents the work of a master in Japanese filmmaking, Mikio Naruse (1905-1969).  

Naruse’s career in film spanned 1930 to 1967, during which time he made close to ninety films primarily of the shōshimin-eiga genre (dramas about the common people). His consistent direction of nuanced bodily movement, subtle gesture and prolonged side glances to express human feeling is punctuated by the superb performances of recurring actors, above all Hideko Takamine, with whom Naruse worked with on seventeen films. He focused primarily on domestic dramas and the intersection of traditional and modern culture, depicting the human struggle through an honest and sensitive lens.  

While his films have rarely been shown in Australia, Naruse is considered one of the masters of Japanese cinema alongside canonical greats Yasujirō Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa.

The four films featured in this program shine a light on Naruse’s poignant observation of the growing tension surrounding familial and societal conformities in a changing, postwar era of Japana theme that pervades the director’s remarkably crafted body of work. 

See all the films in the special series HERE

Audience warning: contains mild themes

Friday 11th November

Walk-ins only. Doors open 15 minutes prior to the screening.

QAGOMA, Brisbane

Sunday 20th November

Walk-ins only. Doors open 15 minutes prior to the screening.

QAGOMA, Brisbane

Saturday 3rd December

ACMI, Melbourne

Tuesday 13th December

The Chauvel Cinema, Sydney

Saturday 5th November

National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra

Screens in: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra

Director: Mikio Naruse

Cast: Sō Yamamura, Setsuko Hara, Ken Uehara and Chieko Nakakita

Genre: Special Series

Category: Free, Mikio Naruse

Language(s): Japanese with English subtitles

Format: 35mm b&w