Wartime Colonial Paradise and Postwar Doom: The Uses of Place, Time, and Memory in Mikio Naruse’s ‘Floating Clouds’


Japanese director Mikio Naruse made over 89 films over the course of his career and many of them are considered classics. However, his best-known film is probably the 1995 film Floating Clouds. It is based on a novel by Showa-era novelist and prose writer Fumiko Hayashi, a writer’s whose work he frequently adapted for the screen. Floating Clouds is an affecting study of abjection, spiritual resignation, and unrequited longing. In this film the Japanese occupied colony of Dalat in Indochina serves as a sort of touchstone of happiness and the bedrock of the relationship between the central characters Yukiko and Tomioka. There are frequent flashbacks to the time these characters spent in Vietnam. Conversely, Japan serves as the backdrop of postwar chaos and eventual doom of the relationship between the two embittered lovers. The settings in Japan range from the Kanto area to as far away as Yakushima off the coast of Kyushu. This presentation will analyze Naruse’s use of Indochina as the positive touchstone and foundation of love between Yukiko and Tomioka and how their return to Japan results in the ultimate annihilation of their relationship.

Author Information
Patrick McCoy, Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: FilmAsia2015
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory

This paper is part of the FilmAsia2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon