First impressions can be misleading, and there is something very wrong with the image of Kon Ichikawa arrived at mainly by way of The Burmese Harp , Conflagration  and Fires on the Plain —as a man obsessed by human suffering and expressing his pity through a series of long, slow, painful, humanistic affirmations. Ichikawa is obsessed by suffering all right, but he is not a humanist in any modern sense of the word…. [The] humanistic definition imposes much too narrow limits, and could only grapple with a film like The Key  by sweeping its almost mockingly flippant final sequence tidily away under the carpet as "silly"….
[The Ichikawa hero] is...
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