The Mighty Mountain Will Punish the Bad

The Japanese film poster for Ginrei no hate aka SNOW TRAIL (1947).

Many people believe they are masters of their own fates but occasionally mother nature steps in to remind them that there are outside forces they cannot control such as a mountain wilderness or a blizzard or an avalanche. Such is the case in Snow Trail (Japanese title: Ginrei no hate, 1947), an engaging B-movie crime drama in which three bank robbers flee to the snow-covered slopes of Mount Hakuba, located in the northern alps of Nagano Prefecture. With the law in close pursuit, the trio soon find themselves in dire straits with no experience in mountain climbing or dealing with extreme weather conditions. Nature is simply indifference in such matters.  

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Balm for the Soul

The Japanese poster for The Burmese Harp (1956)

In 1955 Kon Ichikawa was a well established filmmaker in Japan who was mostly known for satiric comedies like Mr. Pu (1953) and A Billionaire (1954) and the occasional literary adaptation like Young People (1952). His work was still unknown outside of his own country but that would change with his 27th film, The Burmese Harp (Japanese title: Biruma no tategoto, 1956). It would prove to be his first major critical and box office success in Japan but also one that would bring him international acclaim. “That was the first film I really felt I had to make,” Ichikawa later admitted to author and film scholar Donald Richie.   Continue reading