Souls on the Road (1921)

Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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Coming from a background in theater, Minoru Murata made the transition to film and became a popular Japanese director. His first and best-known film, Souls on the Road, blends social criticism with an excellent narrative. One of the first Japanese films to examine modern life, Souls on the Road was heavily influenced by American film, particularly in its construction of parallel stories. In the first story, a young man at odds with his family leaves home for Tokyo, where he is to study music. Instead of studying, he leads a dissipated life and eventually has a child. After marrying the mother, he returns home, repentant and determined to start over. At home he finds his enraged father, who cannot accept his failure and torments him. The second story concerns two former criminals who, starved and unemployed, are looking for work in the country. Along their way, they are helped by several kind individuals and eventually get their lives in order. The stories finally cross at the end as the two men find the young man dead, covered by snow.