HIDARI, Sachiko

左 幸子 (29 June 1930 – 7 November 2001)

  • A landmark in Japanese cinema, The Far Road is the first feature film planned, produced, and directed as well as starred in by a woman, Sachiko Hidari. Inspired by her many years of work as an actress in the films of such illustrious directors as Heinosuke Gosho and Yasuzo Masumura (also represented in the current series), she uses a spare cinematic style to tell the story of a fight for human dignity: a living wage and job security in the face of mechanization of the railroads. The film was financed by the National Railways Workers Union, whose members, because they work for a "public corporation," do not have the right to strike. Source: BAM/PFA

"A first film as producer/director for the celebrated actress Sachiko Hidari, who plays a leading role herself and can also be seen in Double Suicide at Sonezaki in this year's Festival. Ms. Hidari was born in 1930, and worked as a teacher of music and gymnastics before signing with the independent Sogo Geijutsu company as an actress in 1952. Her first significant appearances were in two of Heinosuke Gosho's 1954 films. An Inn at Osaka and the The Cock Crows Again, and she has subsequently played the female lead in such films as Tomotaka Tosaka's The Maid's Kid, Sosumu Hani's She and He and Imamura's The Insect Woman. She founded her own production company to co-produce The Far Road with the Japanese National Railway Workers' Union with whom she shared a wish to bring to the screen for the first time something of the lives and problems of blue-collar workers in the Japanese Railways. The resulting film is large in ambition and scale; it was two years in production, and finally cost some 120 million yen.

"The film begins on Railroad Day (14 October) 1975, with railway employee Ichizo Takinoue travelling to Sapporo with his wife Satoko to receive to Sapporo with his wife Satoko to receive his award for 30 years' service - a wristwatch. That evening, Ichizo's suppressed tensions and resentments come to the surface when for no rational reason he violently opposes his daughter Yuki's proposed marriage. Satoko (played by Ms.Hidari) thinks ruefully back to the day she married Ichizo and reflects on the changes that both they and the Japan National Railway have been through.

"Through a series of flashbacks, the film identifes the crucial year of transition. In the early 60's, when the family had two young children and Satoko went out to work as well as Ichizo, the first wave of modernisation hit the railways: job security was threatened and Ichizo twice failed his promotion exams. By 1966, the introduction of new technology was resulting in lay-offs: Satoko, feeling that she should not have to work simply to earn enough for the family to live on, urged Ichizo to join the Union and support its fight or job security and better wages. In 1970, the Marusei (production improvement movement) took off, and a second Railway Workers' UNion was founded, this one secretly guided by the JNR management. Factionalism set in, and old friends found themselves divided.....Back in the present, Ichizo takes stock of his situation and realises that he has been taking out his feelings of uncertainty and impotence on his family. He gives his blessing to his daughter's marriage, and he and Satoko travel with their daughter and son-in-law to Nagasaki. The young couple inspire the old couple to reassess the 'far road' ahead of them."

-Tony Rayns, 3rdHKIFF

HIDARI, Sachiko — List page from Classic Sites