Kinoshita Keisuke (木下惠介)

Keisuke KINOSHITA (Keisuke in Kanji characters "惠介"is expressed as "恵介" in the new Kanji character code) (December 5, 1912 - December 30, 1998) was a Japanese movie director and scriptwriter.

Brief personal history

He was born as the fourth son of eight siblings of his father, Shukichi KINOSHITA, who managed a grocery shop in Tenmacho, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture and his mother, Tama. He headed for Tokyo after graduation from the Spinning Department, Hamamatsu Technical School (currently Shizuoka Prefectural Hamamatsu Technical High School).
He joined Shochiku Kamata Studios in 1933 and became an assistant cameraman under director Yasujiro SHIMAZU.He transferred to the newly established Shochiku Ofuna Studios and worked as a lower assistant director of the director SHIMAZU the following year in 1934
He was drafted in 1940 and fought in China, but was sent back to Japan the next year when he was injured in battle.

He became a film director in 1943 and successfully debuted with the film "Hana Saku Minato" (literally, Blooming Harbor) for which he received Sadao Yamanaka Award. Director Akira KUROSAWA also debuted the same year and they became lifetime competitors enlivening the Japanese film industry. The so-called 'Kinoshita-gumi' (KINOSHITA group) sent out many filmmakers such as Masaki KOBAYASHI, Yoshiro KAWAZU, Zenzo MATSUYAMA, Hiroshi TESHIGAWARA, Yoshishige YOSHIDA and Taichi YAMADA (scriptwriter).

He released the first feature-length color movie after the war, "Karumen Kokyo-ni Kaeru" (Carmen Comes Home) in 1951. This work won the Japan Film Culture Award and came first in the best ten films selected by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. The film "Nijushi no hitomi" (Twenty-Four Eyes) won the Blue Ribbon Prize, the Golden Globe Award for best foreign language film, etc. in 1954. This work and another film "Onna no sono" (literally, the Garden of Women) won first and second place of 'the top ten of Kinema Junpo magazine' of that year, presiding over "Seven Samurai" by Akira KUROSAWA. After that, he was unlucky because works such as "Senjo no kataki yakusoku" (literally, Firm Pledge at the Battlefield) were put on hold due to the question of profitability raised by Shochiku. Furthermore, his relationship with the company worsened when he severely criticized the fraudulent accounting of the Studio. He quit Shochiku in 1964 and found his way into the field of television, and produced television dramas such as the "Kinoshita Keisuke Hour."

He founded Keisuke KINOSHITA Productions (currently, DREAMAX TELEVISION INC.) in 1964. TBS (a Japanese broadcasting company) gave him a fixed slot and he produced many television dramas such as the "Kinoshita Keisuke Theater" and the "Kinoshita Keisuke Hour." He also wrote the script and choreographed some episodes. He established 'Yonki no kai' (literally, the group of four horsemen) together with Akira KUROSAWA, Kon ICHIKAWA and Masaki KOBAYASHI in 1969. Although it received attention because of the four famous directors, the movie that was to be co-directed by the four directors never was actualized.

KINOSHITA worked as a movie director again with the film "Sri Lanka no ai to wakare" (Love and Separation in Sri Lanka) in 1976 and returned to Shochiku Co., Ltd. in 1979. He directed many movies and television dramas and also wrote many scripts. He was awarded the Shiju hosho (Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon) in 1977 and the Kun Yonto Kyokujitsu Shojusho (the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette) in 1984 and was selected as Bunkakorosha (Person of Cultural Merits) in 1991.

He lived in Tsujido Kumanomori, Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture from 1948 up until his last years.

He died of cerebral infarction at his home in Minato Ward, Tokyo at 3:10 a.m. on December 30, 1998. He was eighty-six. He directed forty-nine movies. After his death, he was awarded a special Elan d'or Prize for his achievements.

He was regarded as one of the two top directors in th Japanese film industry together with Kurosawa and his reputation in Japan was actually greater than that of Kurosawa's. However, since he won less formal overseas awards than Kurosawa and most of his works were based on everyday life rather than dramatic and stimulating events, he quickly became a forgotten master in later years. His name was incorrectly given during a section recalling people who died during the year in the forty-ninth NHK Kohaku Utagassen (NHK Year-end Grand Song Festival). However, his sophisticated way of talking and techniques and keen sense of social perspective are being reappraised after his death.

Although it is said that he used words in a feminine way (such as in a book 'Kinuta satsueijo to boku no seishun' (literally, The Kinuta Studio and My Youth) by Hideo ONCHI.), there are no other specific episodes that prove his sexuality.
(However, in a retrospective essay of the screenwriter Yoshio SHIRASAKA, he wrote that 'KINOSHITA was famous for being gay and all of his assistant directors were beautiful young men.')

He was married for a brief time during the war, but the marriage was not officially registered. The book 'Kinoshita Keisuke den' (Biography of Keisuke KINOSHITA) introduces what KINOSHITA said about his marriage, where he gave up on his wife during their honeymoon. The book 'Tensai kantoku Kinoshita Keisuke' (literally, Genius director Keisuke KINOSHITA) by Hideo OSABE includes a testimony from his former wife that they separated without any sexual relationship and this shows that their separation was similar to what is known today as a "Narita divorce" (a divorce immediately after the honeymoon).

Similar to Yasujiro OZU, he almost never had acts of sexual scenes in his works.