mizoguchi’s preeminence amongst film critics in the 50s was due to their crypto racist liberal attitudes.mizoguchi’s portrayal of a exotic past fulfilled the aesthetic leanings of the west while conveniently obscuring the recent militarized past [unlike ozu who confronted that past]
Beauty and pictures of society are always relevant, so yay Mizoguchi.
Some Notebook articles on the dude: here, here, here, and here.
Mizoguchi is relevant and will always be relevant because he made a few of the very best films ever made.
Truth be told, Ozu couldn’t operate Mizoguchi’s camera, so to speak.
I think the problem many have with melodrama, is again, that it’s a very traditional genre. However, I find melodrama to be one of the most cinematic of genres. When done right it allows for so much in terms of style and content.
Also, people do appreciate cynicism more than beauty, but if you look at Sternberg and Ophuls, there’s always a strong undercurrent of cynicism (more so with Sternberg than Ophuls), and even with Sirk. I think that these undercurrents of irony and cynicism are what makes their films great, because it allows us to divert our attention away from the melodrama, and re-ground ourselves in reality.
People now appreciate irony/cynicism more than sincerity, but I don’t think that was true when those filmmakers were making films. The tides will no doubt change again, and different directors will be fashionable.
I’ve always been a Kurosawa/Ozu man. I’ve seen a few Mizoguchi movies; they’re admirable, but they don’t penetrate my soul, so to speak, the way Kurosawa’s and Ozu’s films do. Mizoguchi keeps too much of a distance from his characters. It’s a completely different approach from Kurosawa & Ozu and it tends to alienate me. A lot of arty/farty types LIKE distance. Not me. I want films to get close to their characters and bring me into the action.
Daniel hit the nail right on the head!
A few years ago, a friend was a TA at UCLA for a course that combined, for some reason, Ophuls, Sturges, and Kubrick. Her students adored the latter, but most of them considered Ophuls and Sturges to be “corny.”
RRegan – That’s crazy considering Sturges could be one of the most deeply cynical and biting directors ever. You need only watch Hail the Conquering Hero or The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek.
Arty farty types, Vic? I like to see the surroundings, the beauty of nature, smooth camerawork, the interactions of individuals and a group taken together, rather than needless editing and overpowering close ups. And i find Sansho incredibly moving. But anyway i don’t think you have to be arty farty to love some Mizogughi films. A woman at work with little interest usually in arthouse cinema happened to see Sansho on TV the same time i did and aboslutely loved it.
Yes, Kid Gloves. Right you are! Aren’t you glad you weren’t trying to teach that mob?
Bump for this superb thread. I’ve seen the popularly known Mizo (yes, I’ll include Oharu and Street of Shame) but I still have plenty of work with his incomplete films and 40’s pallet.
I can’t believe I’ve missed Princess too.
“Mizoguchi keeps too much of a distance from his characters”
he does, but it’s more of a sympthetic rather than a cold distance like Antonioni.
I can definitely see how Angelopoulos was influenced by him
Just brought the new 8 film masters of cinema boxset and got a nice little BFI classics book on Sansho Dayu from the library :D
Mizoguchi’s camera may keep it’s distance but you’d be hard pressed to find a more warm and humanistic director.
The box set Late Mizoguchi: Eight Films, 1951-1956 compiles our four earlier releases of eight films by one of the directors who looms largest across cinema history: Kenji Mizoguchi. This box reproduces all the booklets and supplements of the single releases, but consolidates them into a single, low-price package. If you’ve yet to experience Oyû-sama, Ugetsu monogatari, Gion bayashi, Sanshô dayû, Uwasa no onna, Chikamatsu monogatari, Yôkihi, or Akasen chitai — then the time to start freeing up slots on your all-time top ten list is now.
I envy each one of you who are buying stuff without the need to order them :(
Yes Joks, Theo used to say Mizoguchi was for him one of his ultimate favorites and compared his visual skill to his own themes and camera stillness. I’m not sure if I also read correctly in a film magazine but Mizoguchi, Kurosawa and de Oliveira are amongst his most important influences.
Mizoguchi is difficult if not impossible for the Tarantino-besotted to comprehend.
I like Tarantino and I love Mizoguchi…
Mizoguchi is as relevant as people want him to be.
If people are interested in watching his films, then he’s relevant. If they aren’t, then he’s not.
In his later films Mizoguchi did use close ups more, having said he hated them in the 30s- i think this does help our emotional involvement in Sansho v say Story of Late Chrysanthemums and Straits of Love and Hate (which i still admire a lot).
Angelopoulos has said his direct influences are Welles and Mizoguchi- at one time he was compared to Jancso but said that Jancso was not an influence
Allan, liking and being besotted isn’t quite the same. So, a generalisation by David but I can see where he’s coming from and i’ve not noticed any QT love for Mizoguchi, in fact not aware of any mention by him (would have been shocked if he’d claimed to be a major fan of Mizo). I did like Pulp Fiction. Maybe it’s a “coolness” thing, they don’t seem similar directors but maybe too someone with eclectic taste could really like both.
Next stop, besotted with both Michael Bay and Ozu…
I wasn’t trying to claim some sort of Mizoguchi lineage within the cinema of Tarantino, I’m not that crazy haha. I just don’t care for these crude superior than thou attitudes towards anyone who likes more low-brow cinema, one doesn’t exclude the other. I certainly feel that people like Tarantino are mere specks of dust compared to the Titanic likes of Mizoguchi, but hey, specks of dust can be rather fun.
Also Relevance really must be talked about in relation to accessibility, Mizoguchi’s cinema is basically completely unknown and inaccessible. Which is primarily a crime of Distribution and Critical discourse. It’s our job to shout his name from rooftops and make him ‘relevant’ again!
“If people are interested in watching his films, then he’s relevant. If they aren’t, then he’s not.”
“Angelopoulos has said his direct influences are Welles and Mizoguchi”
he has also admitted to being infliuenced by Antonioni. i can’t see Welles influience at all. maybe Welles was just an inspiration or something, not a concrete influence.
“I certainly feel that people like Tarantino are mere specks of dust compared to the Titanic likes of Mizoguchi, but hey, specks of dust can be rather fun.”
there is nothing wrong with appreciating something for what it is, so as long as you know what it is, which, in this case, you clearly do ;-)
Yes for Angelopoulos, Antonioni- as Bordwell and others have looked at- has some strong similarities. It’s just that at one point he cited only Welles + Mizo ( i don’t have the quote to hand for why Welles), but of course he wasn’t a hermit and his top 10 (personal favourites) gives other indicators. Mizoguchi he mentioned for off-screen space, and Ugetsu, the late scene with Miyagi’s ghost and fire appearing as if by magic, struck me strongly at one moment in Travelling Players, with one of Angelopoulos’ smooth transitions in time
^I take most of what Angelopoulos says with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that he often talks about not wanting to get the audience ‘emotionally involved’ and then goes on to make quasi-sentimental films like ‘Eternity And A Day’. ;-)
The way he talks about the ‘distance’ in his film at times you’d swear he was as chilly as Kubrick. hahaha.
Back to the topic though, what’s your favourite Mizoguchi film?
On the other Mizo/Sansho thread i quoted from a Terrence Malick site, about Malick’s use of dialogue he’d done for a stage version of Sansho the Bailiff, in The Thin Red Line, and in The New World you can see something of Mizoguchi (Pocahontas Anju-like). Would be interested in his Tree of Life for any signs
@ Dimitris: I find Yang Kwei Fei a bit maudlin, i’d had high expectations cos i first heard of it in Leonard Maltin’s Guide with top rating and there’s Po Chu-i’s poem quoted in Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book. Eternity and a Day i find very moving, dare i say almost transcendental, because for me the relationship involves us emotionally while we can still admire the choreography, long takes and physical beauty, just as Mizoguchi wanted to always accentuate powerful emotions in the plot and script while balanced with refined and unobtrusive technique.
Anyway, where are the young directors and critics who are fans of and influenced by Mizoguchi? Many of his strongest admirers, Oliveira, Angelopoulos, Erice, Rivette, Godard… are hardly spring chicks
How relevant for whom? The mainstream or critics or academics? This thread is a bit strange to me because Mizoguchi is obviously still very relevant in at least criticism and academia. I would argue that while a film student is more like to watch Tokyo Monogatari than any Mizoguchi film in class, more “regular” people I know have seen and appreciated Mizoguchi’s films especially Sansho the Baliff, Ugetsu and Oharu. If people don’t consider him the same artisan as Ozu it’s probably due to how much was made out of Ozu’s stylistic predilections which were celebrated as “oppostional” to the Hollywood IMR. And the insistence that these choices were indicative of some core Japanese essence or aesthetic.
It’s a little harder to argue this with Mizoguchi – though people certainly still do – because his films were so obviously in dialogue with American and European dramas and melodramas, their generic conventions and acting styles.
Srsly? I like both. I also like Troll 2 alongside 8 1/2 and La Jetee and my brain has yet to explode.
“more “regular” people I know have seen and appreciated Mizoguchi’s films especially Sansho the Baliff, Ugetsu and Oharu”
where did these ‘regular people’ happen to catch these films?
I don’t mind Troll 2 either, on a strictly ‘ironic’ level.
A lot of the folks I know either saw them on TV (mostly Sansho), rented them from Blockbuster or in Houston, Austin and NYC took advantage of the awesome repertory screenings the cities have to offer.
I’ve come across quite a lot of young people online. at least from USA and UK, who’ve done film courses, know Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa (of course), Brakhage but not so familiar with Mizoguchi- and from some course listings it’s clear why-, and it does seem a higher percentage of older critics and directors citing him. And on the overall favourite film/popularity listings of users here of course he lags behind the still more famous names of world cinema
Well that’s pretty interesting then. I wonder if it’s just NYU’s curriculum or people I happen to know that like him. The Brakhage recognition really surprises me. I had literally never heard of him before going to grad school.