Subscribe to watch - 14-day free trial, then £4.99 a month
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
Mikio Naruse’s best-known film is a masterful study of Ginza hostess struggling under constant pressures to compromise her honour.
1960 111 mins
Director: Mikio Naruse
The widowed Keiko (Hideko Tanake) manages a hostess bar in Tokyo’s Ginza district. She remains faithful to the memory of her husband and supports her mother, brother and his son. The smiling mask she wears allows her to make a living, but the pressure to sell herself is unrelenting. Her business is failing and she must decide whether to raise the money to buy her own bar or marry one of her admiring affluent patrons.
Mikio Naruse’s superb, heartrending film is a classic of post-war Japanese cinema.
Drama 1985 154 mins Director: Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa’s visually spectacular epic transplants Shakespeare’s King Lear from Celtic Britain to feudal Japan.
Drama 1953 136 mins Director: Yasujiro Ozu
A constant fixture in critics' polls, Yasujiro Ozu's most enduring masterpiece is a beautifully nuanced exploration of filial duty, expectation and regret.
Documentary 1996 52 mins Director: Nagisa Oshima
Archive propels argument in this fascinating exploration of the social and cultural importance of Japan's film heritage.
Documentary 1985 92 mins Director: Wim Wenders
Profiling one of the great directors of World Cinema, Wim Wenders delivers this moving portrait of Japanese auteur Yasujiro Ozu.
Documentary 2016 80 mins Director: Steven Okazaki
The on and off-screen character of Toshiro Mifune, Japan’s first international movie star, is explored in this illuminating documentary exploring the life and legacy of this mercurial icon.
Drama 1998 119 mins Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Koreeda's lyrical fantasy challenges the viewer to reflect on the experiences that most make life worth living.
Featuring Hideko Takamine
Featuring Masayuki Mori
Crime 1960 151 mins Director: Akira Kurosawa
The first film made by Akira Kurosawa's own production company is a dark tale of greed, corporate corruption and revenge.
Directed by Mikio Naruse
Drama 1954 101 mins Director: Mikio Naruse
The story of four ageing geishas as they struggle to make ends meet in post-war Japan, from acclaimed filmmaker Mikio Naruse.
Drama 2019 88 mins Director: Fyzal Boulifa
A lifelong friendship is tested by tragedy in this atmospheric and intense first feature from acclaimed British shorts director Fyzal Boulifa.
Drama 1971 74 mins Director: Masao Adachi
A jaded young woman embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery in this radical pink film from experimental film artist, agent provocateur and underground political soldier, Masao Adachi.
Crime 1967 86 mins Director: Atsushi Yamatoya
A hitman is engaged to track down a kidnapped girl, in this hallucinatory and surreal mix of erotica and yakuza violence from the writer of Branded to Kill.
Crime 1972 87 mins Director: Shunya Ito
The iconic Meiko Kaji's career-defining turn as 'Scorpion', an unjustly imprisoned young woman who must escape to exact revenge upon the man who betrayed her.
Comedy 2015 105 mins Director: Athina Rachel Tsangari
Athina Rachel Tsangari's biting and hilarious dissection of the male ego was awarded Best Film at the 2015 BFI London Film Festival.
Drama 1970 81 mins Director: Yasuharu Hasebe
Japanese cinema's kick-ass heroine Meiko Kaji made her name as leader of a ruthless girl gang - which takes on a crime syndicate - in Yasuharu Hasebe's riotous rebel biker flick.