Saturday, September 15, 2012

mono-no-aware

Rereading Kurosawa's Autobiography.

(re editing Uma [Horses]):

There is one place in the story where a foal has been sold and the mare frantically searches for her baby. Completely crazed, she kicks down her stable door and tries to crawl under the paddock fence. I edited the sequence most diligently to show her expressions and actions in a dramatic way.
But when the edited scene was run through a projector, the feeling didn't come through at all. The mother horse's sorrow and panic somehow stayed flat behind the screen. Yama-san had sat with me and watched the film as I was editing it any number of times, but he never said a word. If he didn't say, "That's good," I knew it meant it was no good. I was at an impasse, and in my despair I finally begged his advice. He said, "Kurosawa, this sequence isn't drama. It's mono-no-aware."  Mono-no-aware, "sadness at the fleeting nature of things," like the sweet, nostalgic sorrow of watching the cherry blossoms fall -- when I heard this ancient poetic term, I was suddenly struck by enlightenment as if waking from a dream. "I understand!" I exclaimed and set about completely re-editing the scene.