“There was no more Japanese director than Mizoguchi.” “His best films were about fallen women.” “His films were either masterpieces or total failures.” “He was mad for art.” These are a few of the opinions voiced by some of the actors, screenwriters, producers, and technicians whose interviews comprise this fascinating documentary, winner of the Kinema Junpo prize for Japan’s best film of 1975. Directed by Kaneto Shindo, an assistant to Mizoguchi for over a decade before becoming a well-known filmmaker in his own right (The Island, Onibaba, etc.) and one who, like many others, found the experience of working with the great director overwhelming. Among the interviewees in this film, whose appearances are intercut with rare production stills of films on which they participated, are Yoshikata Yoda, who wrote the screenplays of all of Mizoguchi’s major films from 1936-1955, Kinuyo Tanaka, who played the principal role in 14 films, and Kazuo Miyagawa, who photographed seven of the master’s works. —BAM/PFA
Japanese filmmaker/scriptwriter Kaneto Shindo’s most famous directorial efforts include The Island (1960), a nearly silent, but powerful glimpse at a lonely farmer’s daily toil, and Children of Hiroshima (1952), a wrenching and sentimental account of the city’s post-bomb aftermath. Shindo was born in Hiroshima and got his start in films as an art director during the late ’30s. Less than a decade later, he wrote his first screenplays and went on to work with a number of Japanese directors, including Kenji Mizoguchi and Kon Ichikawa. In 1950, Shindo was a co-founder of a production company. He made his directorial debut in 1951 with The Story of a Beloved Wife.
He was married to actress Nobuko Otowa (1925–1994), who appeared in several of his films. He won the 1996 Japan Academy Prize for Director of the Year for A Last Note.— allmovie guide
A documentary worthy of the subject that shows Shindo's overall admiration to the director. I was left though very curious about the omission of Mizoguchi blocking Tanaka's directorial efforts for 'Love Letter' and if this was true or not. One of the last sequences seems to contradict this in how Tanaka speaks very glowingly about him. It was definitely fascinating to see their relationship explored in-depth.
For anyone who has seen even one film by Kenji Mizoguchi, this is an absolute MUST. Though lots of talking-head interviews are used, the film maintains a momentum and a fascination that makes it impossible… read review