Shinobugawa (1972) AKA The Long Darkness


Tetsuro, a handsome but over-age college student, meets Shino, a beautiful but virtuous saki-shop waitress and falls in love with her. The Long Darkness is a long, solemn, ponderous modern love story set in Tokyo and in parts of northern Japan.

Director: Kei Kumai. AKA The Long Darkness / (忍ぶ川.
Stars: Gô Katô, Komaki Kurihara, Yasushi Nagata, Kinzô Shin, Kaneko Iwasaki, Hisako Takihana, Yûsuke Takita, Hisashi Igawa, Yasushi Kachi, Karin Yamaguchi, Kin Sugai, Toshie Kimura.


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  1. Another great Japanese discovery for me, all thanks to Rarefilmm.
    Poetic and blessed with some amazing sequences of snowy landscapes being crossed by steam engines(!), the lead characters in this poignant romance are both believably real and hauntingly enigmatic; the locations and social history, fascinating.
    Why isn’t the director Kei Kumai better known outside Japan?
    This film may be quite long, but we never found it “ponderous” (as described in the synopsis above).
    Thanks again Jon.

  2. Michael
    March 30, 2021

    Excellent find Jon, thank you

  3. Zybine
    September 15, 2022

    Brothel #8 (another Kumai Kei with – again – the ever beautiful Komaki Kurihara) would be a nice addition too

  4. November 10, 2022

    There were some very beautiful things in this movie, as well as some cliched moments, but the overall look and mood of the movie, the performances and its air of sadness-embedded-within-happiness, ultimately won me over.

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