I read Thirst for Love ten years ago. I re-read the ending several times not wanting to leave the world of this beautiful, stark and disturbing prose. I got a phone call from a producer friend of mine asking me to write a short film for a show on arson that was slated to be produced on PBS.  I couldn't get this novel out of my mind - a death knell for a writer when they have to write an original story.  There were several passages in the book that haunted me and most of all, the character of Etsuko.  What was it about Etsuko that I found so fascinating and why? That is where the story began.... 

Etsuko as written appears to be a very unsympathetic character... she is whiny, weak, maybe lazy... her choices are highly questionable...  she is described as 'unlikable... a twisted bitch... depraved... a lunatic... a destructive yet pitiable figure... etc.',   by various critics. 

But a closer look, reveals a woman of complexity, sensitivity and damage. Etsuko's reponses to the circumstances of her life are a direct result of her status as a woman, the wife of a chronically unfaithful husband, a widow who is negotiated into a sexual relationship with her father-in-law, in post-war Japan.  

Unsympathetic? Is Etsuko not deservant of our sympathy? 

It is my guess that had the character been male, the criticisms would not be quite so harsh. 

And what of Mishima himself? What is his part in this? 

The various adjectives used to describe Etsuko could just as easily be used to describe Mr. Mishima. 

The heart perplexed in a world of duplicity and social repression succumbs to lunacy of obsession and vengeance for it does not know the sincerity of love , as there is no ‘third world’ beyond the emptiness of love, apart from death. Etsuko in her passivity, through her fatal love becomes

DIRDIREDIRECTOR'S STATEMENTE

 

read Thirst

for Love ten years ago.

re-read the ending several times not wanting

to leave the world of this beautiful, stark and

disturbing prose. I got a phone call from

a producer friend of mine

asking me to write a

short film for a show

on arson that was

slated to be produced

on PBS.  I couldn't

get this novel out of my mind - a death knell

for a writer who now has to write an original

story.  There were several passages in the

book that haunted me and most of all, the

character of  Etsuko.  What was it about

Etsuko that I found so fascinating and why?  

That is where the story began.... 

Etsuko as written appears to be a very

unsympathetic character... she is whiny,

weak, maybe lazy... her choices

are highly questionable...

she is described as 

'unlikable... a twisted

bitch... depraved...

a lunatic... a

destructive yet

pitiable figure...

etc.', by

various critics. But a

closer look, reveals a woman of complexity,

sensitivity and damageEtsuko's reponses to the circumstances of her life are a direct result of

her status as a woman, the wife of a

chronically unfaithful husband, a

widow who is negotiated into a

sexual relationship with her

father-in-law, in post-war Japan.  

Unsympathetic? Is Etsuko not

deservant of our sympathy? 

 

It is my guess that had the

character been male, the

criticisms would not be

quite so harsh. And what of Mishima

himself?  What is his part

in this? The various

adjectives

used to

describe

Etsuko

could

just

as

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

But what if the lens were flipped, and Etsuko was looked at with compassion, insight and viewed as human. What if the Etsuko of MIshima's novel chose to take agency over her own life, make an effort to realize her dream through that effort

and satsify her appetitie for life rather then duty,

for self actualization rather than obligation? 

 

The story changes dramatically.

 'Etsuko" becomes 'Kaede". Etsuko's thirst becomes Kaede's burnng desire.  But who is the focus of her burning desire?  The answer is not who, but

what...   Dreaming of a limitless world

beyond her life of carefully measured

movements, the intricate nuanced

stirrings of her desires are veiled behind

a mask of tradition. With the artistry

of a Noh master, Kaede adumbrates

the shadesof her emotion through

the play of shadow  and light that

fleetingly grace her face.  Ghosts of

the past erect skeletons in the

present imprisoning the desires of a

heart in a ruthless world.  In a world

of double standards and social

repression. Her raging heart

and her cataclysmic

love a bewildered

heart caged

and

restrained

by the shackles

of loneliness

and

alienation,

succumbs

 

sfor it

does not

know the

sincerity 

of love , as

there is no

world beyond

the emptiness 

of love, apart from

death. Kaede, in her passion, through

her fatal love becomes a destructive

 yet courageous figure... as

she struggles against her

shackles and for a fleeting

moment , she lives her life

The tragedy is that

her love whether

fatal or

   

 

benevolent,                                   

can not save her                                 

 

,

 

easily be used to describe Mr. Mishima.

 to the lunacy

of obsession

and vengeance

Kaede is doomed.

But the question remains, is it better

to have dreamt of freedom and lost

then never to have dreamt at all?   

Life is not measured

in the breaths we take

but by that which

takes our 

breath away.... 

'm