|THE CASTLE OF SAND (SUNA NO UTSUWA) (director/writer: Yoshitaro Nomura; screenwriters: Shinobu Hashimoto/Yoji Yamada/based on a novel by Seicho Matsumoto; cinematographer: Takashi Kawamata; editor: Kazuo Ota; music: Yasushi Akutagawa; cast: Tetsuro Tanba (Detective Imanishi), Go Kato (Eiryo Waga), Kensaku Morita (Detective Yoshimura), Yoko Shimada (Reiko), Karin Yamaguchi (Sachiko), Yoshi Kato (Waga's Father), Kazuhide Haruta (Motoura Hideo), Chishu Ryu (Kirihara), Ken Ogata (Miki), Seiji Matsuyama (Miki's grocer Son); Runtime: 143; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Shinobu Hashimoto/Yoshiharo Mishima/Masayuki Sato; Janus (Panorama; 1974-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)|
|"The acclaimed procedural
police story was the director's biggest
box office hit."
by Dennis Schwartz
superb mystery yarn directed with meticulous detail
and great insight by renown Japanese filmmaker
Yoshitaro Nomura ("Zero Focus"/"The
Incident"/"Writhing Tongue"), someone whose
films rarely are shown in the West. "Castle" is based
on the crime novel by Seicho Matsumoto.
Nomura wrote the complex crime drama screenplay with Shinobu
Hashimoto and Yoji Yamada.
The acclaimed procedural police story was the
director's biggest box office hit.
unidentified body of an elderly man bludgeoned to
death is found in the Tokyo train yards. It's
determined he was killed somewhere else and his
body dumped there. Veteran detective, Inspector Imanishi
an amateur poet, and an eager young detective, Yoshimura
are sent by train from
Tokyo to the northern Akita Prefecture to follow
the only clues--witnesses said the vic mentioned
Kameda and spoke with a Tohoku accent. After
following leads in various areas on the
island of Honshu, in rural towns and in
Osaka, the cops catch a break as a young adult (
Matsuyama) looking for his missing father
identifies the mysterious corpse as his adopted
father Miki (Ken Ogata).
Through flashbacks and legwork, the detectives
determine Miki was a model policeman some twenty
years ago and since retiring moved back to his
hometown in Emi to run a grocery store and live a
quiet life. In their intensive investigation they
uncover that what led to the crime actually began
during the Second World War. Their investigation
follows the trail of an upcoming talented young
composer Eiryo Waga (Go
Kato), his leper father (Yoshi Kato), an
industrialist's daughter (Karin
Yamaguchi) and a spurned pregnant bar
hostess (Yoko Shimada).
Nomura weaves the complex story together by stretching it out from the past to the present, as he speaks about things that could drive people to their brink. The lush color film takes us to a Japan not often seen by tourists and to a high concept procedural police drama rarely realized. It's a work of great integrity and commitment. The only fault was that it went on for too long.
REVIEWED ON 6/16/2015 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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