mjj (flemmings) wrote,

The Makioka Sisters

I was under the impression that there existed a Cocteau something (ballet? short story? operetta?) called Le Jeune Homme Droit Se Marier (The young man must get married). Being a Cocteau piece, having to get married is a tragedy for the young man. Evidently I invented the whole thing because google is silent on the subject.

But La Jeune Femme Doit Se Marier is the obvious subtitle of Tanizaki's novel, which I've just finished rereading after some 30 years or more. Pace one of my professors at the time, I don't find the novel so detailed that I can envision every room in Sachiko's house. But it's certainly detailed enough about their lives and inner states. And that perennial Japanese bugbear, the neighbours, and What Will People Say, and what will they say at the main house, and people are laughing at us, and and and. It may be normal in that society but to me it looks like the definition of neurotic. One would think the Americans can't come soon enough but of couse the attitude persisted long after the Occupation.

And yet, there are head-scratchers even here. Neighbours saw Taeko and her Osaka bon walking by the river, oh horror. But a few years later when it's proposed to pack young bon off to China as doltish equerry to the puppet Emperor there, Sachiko wants Taeko to go with him, very much without benefit of marriage, because that will somehow put an end to any prospect of their getting married in the first place. And that's not scandalous at all, of course.

What never occurred to me thirty years back was that Yukiko didn't want to be married in the first place and what we'd call her passive-aggression and they called her old-fashioned Kyoto nature was the only weapon she had to evade the unpleasant state. One feels for her in that situation, but lord is she eminently slappable so much of the time. Because there *are* other options available. She's just too much of a lady to take them. This doesn't make it into the film, of course, where Yukiko flirts with her brother-in-law and is given a fairy tale ending- gets to marry that tall actor who plays in Suzuki Seijun's films*, whereas in the book it's a tubby middle-aged guy with a short temper. But of course the film is mostly about the kimono and the largo from Xerxes, with which I am now thoroughly ear-wormed after looking at clips on youtube.

*it seems to be Matsuda Yuusaku, but I can't reconcile the saturnine moustached guy in Kageroza with the pretty-faced tutor in Family Game.
Tags: film, japan, music, reading_20

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