Conflagration


1h 38m 1958
Conflagration

Brief Synopsis

A Buddhist monk tries to overcome his traumatic past while dealing with a corrupt priest.

Film Details

Also Known As
Enjo, Flame of Torment, The
Genre
Drama
Foreign
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1958
Location
Japan

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

The true story of a young monk who, fleeing a miserable childhood, enters the temple to find spiritual purity. Instead, he discovers corruption and pettinness that propel him towards a final, desperate act.

Film Details

Also Known As
Enjo, Flame of Torment, The
Genre
Drama
Foreign
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1958
Location
Japan

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Conflagration


The destruction of Kyoto's Golden Pavilion by a mentally ill monk in 1950 was an event that shook postwar Japan. Novelist Yukio Mishima used it as the springboard for his 1956 novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, which Kon Ichikawa adapted to the screen with his wife, Natto Wada, and Keiji Hasebe. Where Mishima had focused on the nature of Zen Buddhism and theories of aesthetics, however, Ichikawa dealt with psychology and social forces. The film opens with the monk's interrogation, becoming more whydunit than whodunit. Through a series of intricate flashbacks, the film captures the childhood trauma, the discovery of his mother's infidelity, that shaped the young man's deep spirituality, centered on the temple where he goes to study. He is then confronted with harsh realities, the disrespect of tourists, the greed and corruption of the other priests and the more cynical worldview of his closest friend, a lame musician. Through subtle realistic detail, Ichikawa turns the story into a dark satire of postwar Japan and, by extension, human nature. The director's subtlety may be the reason he is the least celebrated of the great Japanese directors, but it is also one of the film's greatest strengths.

By Frank Miller
Conflagration

Conflagration

The destruction of Kyoto's Golden Pavilion by a mentally ill monk in 1950 was an event that shook postwar Japan. Novelist Yukio Mishima used it as the springboard for his 1956 novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, which Kon Ichikawa adapted to the screen with his wife, Natto Wada, and Keiji Hasebe. Where Mishima had focused on the nature of Zen Buddhism and theories of aesthetics, however, Ichikawa dealt with psychology and social forces. The film opens with the monk's interrogation, becoming more whydunit than whodunit. Through a series of intricate flashbacks, the film captures the childhood trauma, the discovery of his mother's infidelity, that shaped the young man's deep spirituality, centered on the temple where he goes to study. He is then confronted with harsh realities, the disrespect of tourists, the greed and corruption of the other priests and the more cynical worldview of his closest friend, a lame musician. Through subtle realistic detail, Ichikawa turns the story into a dark satire of postwar Japan and, by extension, human nature. The director's subtlety may be the reason he is the least celebrated of the great Japanese directors, but it is also one of the film's greatest strengths. By Frank Miller

Kon Ichikawa (1915-2008)


Kon Ichikawa, the acclaimed Japanese director whose best work such as The Burmese Harp, Ototo and the documentary Tokyo Olympiad earned him international awards and further elevated the strength of post war Japanese cinema, died on February 13 in Tokyo of pneumonia. He was 92.

He was born on November 25, 1915, in Ise, Japan. Ichikawa built on a long standing fascination with art and animation when, after formal schooling, he moved to Kyoto to work at the animation department of J.O. Studios. Working his way up the studio ladder, he eventually made his first film, a 20 minute short called A Girl at Dojo Temple (1946) using a cast of puppets.

He spent the next few years working on small, but well-received features such as Endless Passion (1949), Stolen Love (1951) and Mr. Poo (1953) before scoring a breakout hit with his moving, sweeping epic The Burmese Harp (1956). The film, about a Japanese soldier (Shoji Yasui) who becomes a Buddhist monk and devotes himself to burying his dead comrades, was acclaimed for its strong humanity and meditative tone. It won the San Giorgio Prize at the Venice Film Festival and put Ichikawa on the map as a major talent.

Ichikawa would continue his solid streak throughout the '60s: the devastating, often horrific war drama Fires on the Plains (1959), the moving family drama Ototo (1960); a fascinating look at Japanese male virility in Kagi (1960, a Golden Globe and Cannes Festival winner); the strong social document The Outcast (1962); the gender bending An Actor's Revenge (1963); and his stunning observations of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for Tokyo Olympiad (1965) which won a BAFTA winner for Best Documentary.

Although he would never quite scale the same artistic heights of the '50s and '60s, Ichikawa, ever the consummate filmmaker, would continue to have domestic hits in his native Japan in a variety of molds: social satire I Am A Cat (1975); the pulsating period piece The Firebird (1979); the sentimental, but beautifully photographed domestic drama, The Makioka Sisters (1983); and arguably, his last great film, the samurai epic 47 Ronin (1994).

Ichikawa was still directing theatrical and television movies well into his 80s and never officially retired. His last film was The Inugamis (2006). He was married to screenwriter Natto Wada from 1948 until her death in 1983. He is survived by two sons.

by Michael T. Toole

Kon Ichikawa (1915-2008)

Kon Ichikawa, the acclaimed Japanese director whose best work such as The Burmese Harp, Ototo and the documentary Tokyo Olympiad earned him international awards and further elevated the strength of post war Japanese cinema, died on February 13 in Tokyo of pneumonia. He was 92. He was born on November 25, 1915, in Ise, Japan. Ichikawa built on a long standing fascination with art and animation when, after formal schooling, he moved to Kyoto to work at the animation department of J.O. Studios. Working his way up the studio ladder, he eventually made his first film, a 20 minute short called A Girl at Dojo Temple (1946) using a cast of puppets. He spent the next few years working on small, but well-received features such as Endless Passion (1949), Stolen Love (1951) and Mr. Poo (1953) before scoring a breakout hit with his moving, sweeping epic The Burmese Harp (1956). The film, about a Japanese soldier (Shoji Yasui) who becomes a Buddhist monk and devotes himself to burying his dead comrades, was acclaimed for its strong humanity and meditative tone. It won the San Giorgio Prize at the Venice Film Festival and put Ichikawa on the map as a major talent. Ichikawa would continue his solid streak throughout the '60s: the devastating, often horrific war drama Fires on the Plains (1959), the moving family drama Ototo (1960); a fascinating look at Japanese male virility in Kagi (1960, a Golden Globe and Cannes Festival winner); the strong social document The Outcast (1962); the gender bending An Actor's Revenge (1963); and his stunning observations of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for Tokyo Olympiad (1965) which won a BAFTA winner for Best Documentary. Although he would never quite scale the same artistic heights of the '50s and '60s, Ichikawa, ever the consummate filmmaker, would continue to have domestic hits in his native Japan in a variety of molds: social satire I Am A Cat (1975); the pulsating period piece The Firebird (1979); the sentimental, but beautifully photographed domestic drama, The Makioka Sisters (1983); and arguably, his last great film, the samurai epic 47 Ronin (1994). Ichikawa was still directing theatrical and television movies well into his 80s and never officially retired. His last film was The Inugamis (2006). He was married to screenwriter Natto Wada from 1948 until her death in 1983. He is survived by two sons. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1959

Released in United States June 1978

Released in United States on Video January 1987

Released in United States September 22, 1964

Re-released in United States on Video March 23, 1995

Shown at 1959 London Film Festival.

Shown at 1959 Venice Film Festival.

Shown at New York Film Festival September 22, 1964.

Formerly distributed by Nelson Entertainment.

Daieiscope

Released in United States 1959 (Shown at 1959 London Film Festival.)

Released in United States 1959 (Shown at 1959 Venice Film Festival.)

Released in United States on Video January 1987

Re-released in United States on Video March 23, 1995

Released in United States June 1978 (Los Angeles)

Released in United States September 22, 1964 (Shown at New York Film Festival September 22, 1964.)