Film | Wide Angle

Marty Gross and 'The Lovers' Exile'

by Mark Schilling

At various times and places in his four-decade career, Canadian native Marty Gross has been a potter, art teacher, film director and a producer, with most of his personal and professional roads leading back to Japan.

On March 24, Gross will present an English-subtitled screening of “The Lovers’ Exile,” his 1979 bunraku (Japanese puppet play) classic, at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum in Ebisu. Afterward, he will stay for post-screening questions from the audience.

“The Lovers’ Exile” is an adaptation of the bunraku masterpiece “The Courier for Hell” (“Meido no Hikyaku”) by Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725). Gross recruited the top bunraku stars of the day to perform it on a specially constructed stage at Daiei Uzumasa Studios in Kyoto. Among his collaborators were renowned cinematographer Kozo Okazaki (“The Yakuza”) and composer Toru Takemitsu (“Ran”).

Gross edited the three-hour play to a 90-minute film, with famed film critic and author Donald Richie supplying the English subtitles. Following its 1980 release, “The Lovers’ Exile” was screened to acclaim at the Edinburgh and Venice Film Festivals, and in 2011 Gross supervised a restoration and digital remastering of the original.

If you can’t make it on March 24 to see the English-subtitled version, the film is also screening with Japanese subtitles until March 31.

For more details, visit www.bun raku-movie.com or the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum site: topmuseum.jp/e/contents/exhibition/movie-2753.html.

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