Floating Clouds

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Floating Clouds
Ukigumo poster 2.jpg
Japanese film poster
Directed by Mikio Naruse
Produced by Sanezumi Fujimoto
Screenplay by Yōko Mizuki
Based onFloating Clouds (novel)
by Fumiko Hayashi
Starring Hideko Takamine
Masayuki Mori
Mariko Okada
Music by Ichirō Saitō
CinematographyMasao Tamai
Edited byEiji Ōi
Release date
  • 15 January 1955 (1955-01-15)(Japan)
Running time
123 minutes
Japanese film poster showing (from the left) Mariko Okada, Masayuki Mori and Hideko Takamine. Ukigumo poster.jpg
Japanese film poster showing (from the left) Mariko Okada, Masayuki Mori and Hideko Takamine.

Floating Clouds (浮雲, Ukigumo) is a 1955 Japanese drama film directed by Mikio Naruse. It is based on the novel of the same name by Japanese writer Fumiko Hayashi, published just before her death in 1951. The film received numerous national awards upon its release and remains one of director Naruse's most acclaimed works. [1] [2] [3]



The film follows Yukiko, a woman who has just been expatriated from French Indochina, where she has been working as a secretary for a forestry project of the Japanese wartime government. Yukiko seeks out Kengo, one of the engineers of the project, with whom she had an affair and who had promised to divorce his wife for her. They renew their affair, but Kengo tells Yukiko he is unable to leave his wife. Yukiko can't cut ties with Kengo, although he even starts an affair with a married younger woman, while she becomes the mistress of an American soldier as a means to survive in times of economic restraint. Eventually, she follows Kengo to an island where he has taken a new job, where she dies of her bad health and the humid climate.


Awards and legacy

Yasujirō Ozu saw Floating Clouds in 1955, and called it "a real masterpiece" in his journals. [4] The film is Naruse's most popular film in Japan. [1] It was voted the second best Japanese film of all time in a poll of 140 Japanese critics and filmmakers conducted by the magazine Kinema Junpo in 1999. [2] It also received 10 votes total in the British Film Institute's 2012 Sight & Sound critics' and directors' polls. [3]


Adrian Martin, editor of on-line film journal Rouge , has remarked upon Naruse's cinema of walking. Bertrand Tavernier, speaking of Naruse's Sound of the Mountain , described how the director minutely describes each journey and that "such comings and goings represent uncertain yet reassuring transitions: they are a way of taking stock, of defining a feeling". So in Floating Clouds, the walks down streets "are journeys of the everyday, where time is measured out of footfalls, – and where even the most melodramatic blow or the most ecstatic moment of pleasure cannot truly take the characters out of the unromantic, unsentimental forward progression of their existences."[ citation needed ]

The Australian scholar Freda Freiberg has remarked on the terrain of the film: "The frustrations and moroseness of the lovers in Floating Clouds are directly linked to and embedded in the depressed and demoralised social and economic conditions of early post-war Japan; the bombed-out cities, the shortage of food and housing, the ignominy of national defeat and foreign occupation, the economic temptation of prostitution with American military personnel." [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 Freiberg, Frieda (2007). Mikio Naruse (DVD). British Film Institute.
  2. 1 2 "Hōga ōrutaimu besuto 100 (Kinema Junpo All Time Best Best 100)" (in Japanese). My Cinema Theater. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  3. 1 2 "Floating Clouds". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 20 August 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  4. Richie, Donald (29 September 2008). "An Autumn Afternoon: Ozu's Diaries". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 17 February 2021.