The last movie Mikio Naruse made before his death is a mixture of a drama and a tragedy, and tells the story of a man who fell in love with the wife of the man he killed in a car accident.
I have been through quite a lot of the filmography of Mikio Naruse and Naruse died in 1969. Scattered Clouds is therefore the last movie he made, and what a Swan Song it is. Film as an art form started to evolve a lot in the 1960s. Ozu had been dead for years and Kurosawa was also messing up. Fresh new cinematography evolved all over the world and Mikio Naruse delivered his most emotionally moving film to date.
So. a short recap of the story. We have Yumiko, played by Yoko Tsukasa, whose biggest flaw is not being Hideko Takamine, a woman who ends up as a widow when her husband is killed in a car accident, and the impossible love between Yumiko and the man who killed her husband Shiro Mishima is carried throughout the hour and 49 minutes the movie lasts. Mishima is portrayed by the phenomenal Yuzo Kayama and really does one of the finest acting roles I have ever seen him in.
Naruse starts of fast with a death in average working class family. Yumiko loses her husband and starts to wonder what she is gonna do with her life in terms of economics, she gets good help from her sister Ayako but one day the man who killed her husband wants to help her financially and sweet melodramatic music starts between them the way only Mikio Naruse can.
He also wants to play on some corruption themes here. Mishimas job involves pandering, and Yumiko is not far from being a prostitute, there are a topic of inner purity all throughout Scattered Clouds. We have these two characters who are way to perfect for each other, but who can’t be together due to the tragic event of their past, so they move on with their lives as well as they can.
This is more of a tragedy, then the previous drama films Naruse is known for, and the story of Scattered Clouds is not really that well written. I have enjoyed it, but he is playing on every possible stereotypical cliché of the tragedies of Ancient Greece, and it is something he really should have been better than to do. The soundtrack made by Toru Takemitsu is melodramatic and gorgeous to listen to.
Scattered Clouds is a very good film, don’t get me wrong on that. in terms of cinematography and mise-en-scene, Naruse still shows that he may have been the greatest Japanese director to date. The movie is visually pleasing to look at, and any cinematophile will find plenty of details in the cinematography here. Naruses last film is not his best, that still goes to Floating Clouds, but it is probably the most emotionally moving. He manages to get the viewer to fall for every possible cliche in the book and you geniuinly want Mishima and Yumiko to be together. Also the ending scene is probably the most gorgeous shot scene I have ever seen.