Kawashima Yuzo (川島雄三)

Yuzo KAWASHIMA (February 4, 1918-June 11, 1963) is a Japanese film director.


He was born in Tanabe Town, Shimokita Country, Aomori Prefecture (present Mutsu City).

He graduated from Aomori Prefectural Noheji Junior High School (present Aomori Prefectural Noheji High School). After graduating from the Professional Course, Meiji University, he joined the Shochiku Ofuna Director Department. After working under Yasujiro SHIMAZU, Kozaburo YOSHIMURA, Yasujiro OZU, Hiromasa NOMURA, Keisuke KINOSHITA and others as an assistant director, in 1944 he passed the promotion examination to director at the top, and made his debut as a film director with "Kaette kita otoko" (A man who returned) based on the original work by Sakunosuke ODA.

After World War II, he mass produced program pictures. In 1954, he moved to Nikkatsu Corporation. During this period he filmed his master pieces, such as "Suzaki Paradise Red Light" and "The Sun Legend of the End of the Tokugawa Era." In 1957, he moved to Tokyo Eiga Haikyu (Tokyo film distribution company) affiliated with Toho Co., Ltd. On the other hand, the three films he directed at Daiei Motion Picture Company with actress Ayako WAKAO, "Onna wa nido umareru" (A woman can be born twice), "Temple of the Wild Geese," "Graceful Brute," came to be highly recognized in later years.

His hobby is collecting cameras and he was the head of a club for Minox (sub-miniature camera) lovers, called 'Mino-mushi (basket worm) Club' with actors and actresses. Since around the time of his promotion to director, he had suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and had difficulty in walking and others. He died suddenly at his room in the Nikkatsu Apartment House five days before the release of his last film"Ichi ka bachi ka" (All-or-nothing). The cause of the death was cor pulmonale (CP).
He was 45 years old
His grave is in Tokugen-ji Temple in Shin-machi Town, Mutsu City. He directed 51 films, and three unfinished films are left (due to his sudden death).


He produced a small magazine titled "Dorouma Club" (Maddy horse club) with Katsumi NISHIKAWA, Keizaburo KOBAYASHI, and Ruiju YANAGISAWA, who were born in the same year as Kawashima, that is, in 1918 or in the Year of Tsuchinoeuma (the year of the dobbin horse, according to zodiac sign). The magazine that portrayed the top management figures and union leaders of Shochiku with a wry sense of humor gained a high reputation, however it had to be discontinued after its forth volume due to pressure from the company.

Film director Shohei IMAMURA was his favorite disciple, and he also worked as a playwright. However, according to what Shohei IMAMURA himself said in the later years, although he was credited as playwright-director, in reality very few of his ideas were adopted.

In the original idea of the last scene in "Bakumatsu Taiyoden" (The Sun Legend of the End of the Tokugawa Era), the leading actor was to go outside, passing through the studio premise, and then run out into the city. The director insisted that otherwise he would not continue filming; however, all the people around him, including Frankie SAKAI (the leading actor) and staff members, persuaded him to change the scene, because they thought that nobody would understand the meaning and technically it would be really impossible, and finally the director reluctantly accepted the change to the actual last scene. However, Frankie SAKAI commented later in life that afterwards he thought back that he should have done as the director said.

In life he used to laugh at himself, saying, 'except for Franklin ROOSEVELT and me, nobody become famous suffering from this kind of diseases.'

Among the film directors at that time, he was always smartly dressed. It is said that he picked a suitable watch everyday to coordinate the color of its belt with that of the clothes he wore.

His works are an uneven mixture of the brilliant and the mediocre, but he practically thought that 'filmmaking was nothing more than a way to earn a living.'

[Original Japanese]