The plot: During World War II, the management of a war industry of optical instruments for weapons requests an effort from the workers to increase the productivity during four months. The target for male workers is an increase of 100% of the production, but the female workers, led by the dedicated Tsuru Watanabe, ask the direction to surpass their goal from 50% to 70%. During the period, the women have to overcome illness and their personal problems to complete their quota.
This must be the worst rated film by Kurosawa on IMDB? But why? I thought it was perfectly likable. Perhaps it is because it’s so unlike anything else Kurosawa ever made…?
It is also an incredibly Socialist film.
Here, the workers are so committed to their work that they don’t get upset because they must do too much, but because they are not trusted with more. It’s understood that the film was made as propaganda during World War II. Nevertheless, Kurosawa allegedly intended to make the most beautiful documentary with it. At this time the concept of documentary itself was a little abstract. So much so that neo-realist movie may as well as been considered a documentary.
So, while this film is shot in a real factory and with real workers, there are also constructed drama and actresses.
It’s amazing how unlike a Kurosawa movie this is. Particularly in its ideological concerns. The film is clearly using a communist standpoint. The achievement of fulfilment via labour and teamwork. The concept of the individual only becoming whole as part of a greater, supreme system. Eisenstein much?
Although I was half-expecting the film to turn upon itself, by revealing the workers’ dedication as a dangerous and self-destructive obsession. Alas, Kurosawa aimed to tread on no such dark waters.
The excitement of the shoot must have been particularly infectious. Soon after The Most Beautiful wrapped, Kurosawa married its leading lady, Yoko Yagama. Perhaps she was the most beautiful? And while the camera frames as many women workers as it possibly can at once in many of the shots, Kurosawa must only have looked at one, who was indeed, in his eyes, the most beautiful.