Ichikawa Kon (1915-2008), one of the most important and prolific Japanese directors, made almost eighty films during the seventy years of his career. His accomplishment is considered to be particularly difficult to judge due to its astounding variety of genres, themes, styles and tone - simultaneously sardonic, pathetic, cruel, sentimental, tragic and comic. However, regardless of the story that Ichikawa was depicting through all the images he created - starting from animations, through literary adaptations, postwar humanist movies and sentimental comedies, experimental films to documentaries – he never stopped thinking in terms of contemporary society and the problems it faces. Tracing the vicissitudes of Japanese postwar social history on the screen becomes an unforgettable adventure. This essay tries to investigate Ichikawa's oeuvre in the overall perspective by presenting some of his most widely acknowledged and recognised films as well as by introducing to the broad range of problems they invite.
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