Great Mother (YUMIKO)

1983, 24:30 min, color, sound

The second part of a trilogy, Great Mother (YUMIKO) is a domestic melodrama that examines the cultural and familial role of Japanese women by tracing the psychology of a turbulent mother-daughter relationship. Yumiko, a rebellious young woman from an affluent family, encounters resistance from her mother, a successful career woman, when she becomes pregnant and marries. The mother is an icy, assured presence, seen only on a television screen as a superego who monitors Yumiko's behavior. The television becomes a powerful metaphorical device, underlining the disunity of the familial structure and acting as a psychological presence. As Yumiko's marriage deteriorates, her pain is juxtaposed with the banal rituals of her mother's life (instructing her subordinates at work, scrubbing the floor at home), an irony ultimately heightened by the viewer's awareness of the reflexivity of this drama-within-a-drama.

In Japanese with English subtitles.

Written by Mizuho Jouta, Mako Idemitsu. Camera: Michael Goldberg. Sound: Tetsu Furudate. With: Hiroko Narasaki, Masako Ooigawa, Masayuki Oono.