The stage director Shimamura, who is bringing western theatre to Japan, falls in love with the outspoken actress Sumako Matsui, and leaves his family to be with her, while trying to keep his Art Theatre solvent.
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Master of drama and value-conflicts both in the domestic and collective realm, Mizoguchi delivers here not only a stunning drama but also a profound essay on aesthetics where the relevance of Plato and Aristotle surface in a Japanese context! The triumphant show is followed by fatalistic suicide, which itself, cunningly, signals the dawn of a new era for the arts. Tanaka, as always, is the motor of this superb film!
A fascinating film - a real departure in many ways for both its director and star - based on actual characters who, round the turn of the century, brought Western theater to the Japanese stage. Doubtless it pleased the Occupation authorities, yet there's not a totally uncritical view of the effect of newfangled ideas on the Japanese character. And, as one expects from the maestro, it's beautiful as can be.