The vengeance of the retainers of Lord Asano in 1703, following his forced hara-kiri, forms the basis for one of the most successful Kabuki dramas, as well as several film versions. Mizoguchi’s, made in the middle of the war, was based on a more recent Kabuki version by Seika Mayama. “A girding of the spirit is recommended for this wraparound experience in the same way that the best of the long-form classics from Children of Paradise to Tess are to be savored. At three hours and 39 minutes, Mizoguchi has transformed a basic samurai legend of Japanese folklore into an essential historical drama of Japanese cinema. The boxed courtyards and formal gardens of the eighteenth century are tracking paradises that Mizoguchi’s dolly-and-crane shots exploit fully, and the tale of loyal vassals avenging their lord’s honor is rendered subtly throughout by a highly disciplined Expressionism.” —Tom Allen, Village Voice
Kenji Mizoguchi entered the film world as a promoter of Western novelty in Japanese cinema and exited it as an acclaimed international director who exemplified Japan at its most traditional. After The Life of Oharu and Ugetsu won prizes in successive Venice Film Festivals in the early ‘50s, Mizoguchi became an icon for the nascent French New Wave. His mastery of mise-en-scène was lauded by Jacques Rivette, while Jean-Luc Godard praised his metaphysics and his stylistic elegance. Mizoguchi is still recognized as one of the 20th century’s greatest filmmakers. Born in Tokyo, in 1898, Mizoguchi was the middle child of a roofer/carpenter. His family’s financial situation went from modest to desperate when his erratic, dreamer father tried to make a killing by selling raincoats to the military during the Russo-Japanese war. Not having enough money for food, Mizoguchi’s older sister was put up for adoption at age 14. She was later sold to a geisha house. Mizoguchi himself… read more
Where is this available? I really like the Mizoguchi films I have seen and this looks great too
Mizoguchi's rendition of the classic folk legend is probably the most nuanced and complex both in execution and narrative, his craft not only excels in its formal audacity but also works as one of the finest examples of traditional Japanese storytelling. It should be seen paying utmost attention to every detail as it may inadvertently challenge the viewer.
This film is absolutely incredible. Perhaps the best Japanese film I've ever seen. It is truly a contemplation about art and aesthetic conventions, with a Hamlet-like story and choreographed to utter perfection. I'm entirely bewildered as to how this was accomplished. Utterly amazing.
Sitting here stunned after four hours and really just wanting the film to go on even more. The film didn't even FEEL like four hours and it was brilliant how Mizoguchi didn't show the battle scene. I also really really just REALLY loved the camera set-up with certain scenes and just letting it linger for a few minutes before letting it actually "begin".