Forgotten classic is a dynamic, elegant melodrama written by Mizoguchi’s scriptwriter Yoshikata. Friendly textile manufacturer can’t get a woman because of a disfiguring birthmark. He finally finds a courtesan in the pleasure district Yoshiwara and falls in love with her, but this heralds his downfall.
A glorious melodrama written by Mizoguchi collaborator Yoda Yoshikata, Yoshiwara: The Pleasure Quarter ranks with Uchida’s finest post-war films. A successful textile industrialist from the provinces is beloved by his employees for his kindness, but cannot find a wife because of a disfiguring birthmark on his face. Even the Yoshiwara courtesans refuse to entertain him, until an indentured peasant prostitute, Tamarazu, takes the unsavory assignment and treats him with brash tenderness. ‘The scar is not on your heart’, she scoffs, and the grateful businessman falls madly in love with her, ultimately losing his fortune in the expensive quest to purchase her freedom. When faced with her betrayal and his own financial ruin, the man takes revenge, turning the lavish ceremony to mark Tamarazu’s ascension to courtesan into a slashing spectacle. The script’s taut determinism, with its interlocked rise (hers) and fall (his), and teeming social detail; the dynamism of the scope cinematography; and the remarkably ambiguous characters of the besotted businessman and the grasping whore – in her earthiness and ambition she reminds one of Imamura’s enterprising insect women – make Yoshiwara seem like some kind of lost classic. (JQ) —International Film Festival Rotterdam
Uchida Tomu was born in the city of Okayama, Okayama Prefecture on April 26, 1898 to a family of confectionary makers. After dropping out of high school and spending time as a piano tuner in Yokohama, Uchida worked on and off for the Taisho Katsuei Motion Picture Company founded in May 1920. Nicknamed Tom by his gang, he took the stage name Tomu and became an actor, also serving as an assistant director, assistant cameraman and stagehand. Uchida joined the Makino educational films (Makino Kyoikueiga Seisakusho) in Kyoto, and directed his first film Aa, Konishi Junsa (Police Officer Konishi, 1922) with Kinugasa Teinosuke; however, his innate wanderlust soon had him off traveling around Japan, mixing with the people at the bottom of the social ladder. In 1926 he went to work for Nikkatsu, making his proper directorial debut with Kyoso Mikkakan (Three Days of Competition, 1927). Following his early light comedies, Uchida went on to make the socialist leaning… read more
Talk about a week of wonders. My first Naruse (When a Woman Ascends the Stairs), Shimizu (Mr. Thank You) and now Uchida. It is an incredibly satisfying feeling to know that you have such a lot of wonderful films to discover this summer !
There are so many great Japanese films to discover Gylfi. The cinematic riches of this great country have provided me with so much enjoyment over the years. The three directors you mention all produced some outstanding work, as did so many others like Masumura, Ichikawa etc. Happy viewing! :)
Thanks Trolley Freak. The theme I decided for this summer is japanese and french films. Not only will I be diving further into Mizoguchi, Ozu and Kurosawa. I will also look into the films of those I mentioned above along with Kobayashi, Oshima and the two you named, Masumura and Ichikawa. Incredible amount of talent there :)
Unfortunately I missed this during the cup, but I really enjoyed it. Not as good as 'A Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji' but the colour palette was lovely and had a great lead performance. 4/5