The Inheritance (1962)

The Inheritance (Karami-ai)
Directed by Misaki Kobayashi
Written by Koichi Inagaki from a novel by Norio Nanjo
1962/Japan
Shochiku Eiga
First viewing/FilmStruck

Kikuo Furukawa: I’ve got a favor to ask. It’s embarrassing. But a coffin is waiting for me, so I can say this plainly. I don’t have any legally recognized children. But I do have children. To top it off, I’ve got three of them. Some may be dead. But there’s no way all three are dead. So I want you to find my children. I don’t mean to legally acknowledge them and their heirship right away. Some may have grown up to be scoundrels. But if any of them are suitable, I’d like to add them as heirs.

This lacks the gravitas of Kobayashi’s other 1962 film, Harikiri , but the imagery is equally beautiful.

Immensely wealthy Kikuo Furukawa is terminally ill and is trying to get his affairs in order before he dies.  He decides to leave a third of his estate to his wife and the remainder to his three illegitimate children who have remained unacknowledged until now.  If the children are not located he intends to leave their share to charity.

The story follows the search for the children.  It is half-hearted at best as those close to the dying man want that money for themselves.  With Tetsuya Nakadai as one of the money seekers.

I think Kobayashi is at his best when he has a grand theme to work with and I enjoy his period pieces the most (Harakiri, Samurai Rebellion). All the characters in this are unlikeable and there is a certain sameness to the proceedings.  No one could fail to appreciate the exquisite compositions however.

Clip (credit sequence)