Hideko Takemine obituary

Japanese actor whose forte was courageous, independent, strong-willed heroines

Although Japan had been making films since the beginnings of cinema, Japanese films remained virtually unknown in the west for more than half a century. Shamefully, it has taken almost as long again to recognise the greatness of the director Mikio Naruse, and consequently the remarkable talents of Hideko Takemine, his leading lady in more than a dozen films, who has died of lung cancer aged 86.

In the same way as Kinuyo Tanaka became associated with the films of Kenji Mizoguchi, and Setsuko Hara with those of Yasujiro Ozu, Takemine embodied Naruse's heroines – courageous, independent, strong-willed, conscientious women, faced with misfortune. Naruse once remarked about his female characters: "If they try to move forward even a little, they quickly hit a wall." The director Akira Kurosawa's description of Naruse's films as "looking calm and ordinary at first glance but which

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