“Taki – the kind of woman that Colette would have understood – is a grande artiste. Star attraction of a small travelling show, leading a life both uprooted and aimless, she is nevertheless contented, if lonely. She is also completely good-hearted. She helps a couple hopelessly in love escape, she gives money to a woman she knows is worthless, she even helps out the villainous manager for whom she works. No matter what happens she can always sit back, smile, and say: ‘Well, at least I did the right thing.’ Accidentally, she meets a coach-driver (shown in the most delicate and inventive of flashbacks) and when she learns that she was inadvertently the cause of his losing his job, decides to do the right thing. Since she lost him one job she must find him another; she decides to support him, to send him to law school in Tokyo. In one of Mizoguchi’s most sensitive seduction scenes, she makes him accept, and then seduces him in a forthright, straightforward yet completely decorous manner. She also falls in love – hopelessly and finally.” —Donald Richie
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 melodrama is kept tightly paced and low key for most of the time, and each shot is so carefully thought for every scene that is hard not to feel admiration for this film. The emotion seeps naturally and engages as it goes along, which is far more that I can ask when I watch a silent movie.