The first of his pictures still in existence, The Song of Home, is a studio assignment remote from Mizoguchi’s personal concerns, lauding traditional rural values over those of the wicked city, although it contains some montage experiments in the manner of Minoru Murata. The script by Ryunosuke Shimizu won a Ministry of Education award. —David Williams, World Film Directors
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
The earliest surviving film of Mizoguchi and the earliest Japanese film I've yet seen is in remarkable condition considering its age. Despite being a studio assignment bearing skant resemblance to his mature style, it clearly shows off the talent that would come to fruition in the next decade. The simple story concerns a poor young villager who dreams of leaving for the bright lights of Tokyo. It's a little charmer..