Kumiko Akiyoshi: Sakura Nakata
Koji Yakusho: Kenzo Nakata
Kumiko Takeda: Yoko Shinonoi
Momoko Kouchi: Yoshino Nakata
Directed by Mamoru Watanabe
Based on a novel by Umeno Tanaka
Scenario: Isao Okishima/Toshimichi Saeki
Running time: 110 min.
Release date: Feb.13, 1993
guren: scarlet flame
Kumiko Akiyoshi (Sakura) and Koji Yakusho
(Kenzo) at Yoko and Yuzo's wedding reception.
This is an epic film which spans the period from wartime to just after the demise of the Showa Emperor. It features
the life of a woman called Sakura Nakata ( Kumiko Akiyoshi). Koji Yakusho's role is that of Kenzo Nakata,
The synopsis of this film is as follows.
When the film starts, we see Sakura ask her cousin, Kenzo Nakata to get married with her. It is in Tokyo in 1957.
Sakura confesses Kenzo her past life:
She was ordered to get married to a millitary officer, Okita by her parents, when she was 18. Her tragedy was that
after living with her husband only for four days, he was transfered to a far place and then to a battlefield and died.
She learned her husband' death soon after their baby was born. She then was sent to live with her husband's family
in Hokkaido. The life there was tough, and she attempted to commit suicide with her baby son, Shiro. She managed
to escape to her home in Tokyo but her parents wouldn't let her in, saying that a woman should stay with her
husband's house, once married.
Sakura continued her story, saying that just after the end of the war, she had been successful in business and had
earned a huge sum of money. Her shop, however, was taken over by her elder brother, when he returned from the
Now aged 32, Sakura says to Kenzo that she wants to start a new life as a married woman, again. Kenzo, who also
wants to get married, accepts her proposal, provided that he can part with his girlfriend, Yoko. In the event, Sakura
and Kenzo get married. However, their married life turns out to be rather strange.
Sakura suffers from consumption and gets hospitarized for a few months.
When she returns home, Kenzo's girlfriend, Yoko comes to Saura and Kenzo's house and declares that she will live
together with them. Kenzo persuades Yoko that they could meet outside Kenzo's house even though he is married to
Sakura. Young Yoko cannot tolerate the situation and determines to live with Kenzo. Sakura becomes furious,
urging Kenzo to get rid of her. But Kenzo says no. Night after night, Sakura is tormented to hear Kenzo and Yoko's
love affair upstairs.
In due course, Sakura hits on an idea to solve this distorted life, that is, to let Yoko and Kenzo's slightly retarded
younger brother, Yuzo get married after seeing that Yoko and Yuzo have become friends.
Sakura, however, gets stunned to find that Kenzo still visits Yuzo's house,
carrying on a love affair with Yoko and letting Yuzo wait outside the house.
Kenzo and Yoko's love affair ends after Yoko gives a birth to Yuzo's baby: Yoko rejects Kenzo and Yuzo beggs his
brother to leave them alone, emphasizing that he has now become a father. We see Kenzo's attitude to life change
from this time. Kenzo frequently drinks and attempts to commit suicide, trying to jump from a building roof or to
hang himself. He becomes self-distructive. He murmurs to himself that he hates any feelings of happiness.
Sakura and Kenzo's life continues, looking seemingly peaceful, until his beloved mother dies. After his mother's
funeral, Kenzo says to Sakura that everything is over with him: he is now a lifeless shell. His purpose of life was to
revive his family now in reduced circumstances in order to please his mother: the Nakatas had been wealthy
landowners until the end of the war. He says that, with his mother's death, he has come to realize that such a
purpose has turned out to be only an endless dream.
Soon after his mother's funeral, Kenzo commits suicide by setting fire to his car while sitting inside. We see a huge
scarlet flame rising. This happenes about 1976.
The film ends after the demise of the Showa Emperor, with the aged Sakura and her son, Shiro, recollecting their
past lives at Kenzo's 13th memorial service.
Sakura suggests to Kenzo that
Yoko should get married to
Kenzo's brother, Yuzo,who is
Kenzo's characterization seems not so convincing, from reading the scenario only, but Yakusho's
portrayal of Kenzo gives viewers some clues to understanding this self-distructive, decadent figure.