This epic portrait of an inexorable fall from grace, starring the incredibly talented Kinuyo Tanaka as an imperial lady-in-waiting who gradually descends to street prostitution, was the movie that gained director Kenji Mizoguchi international attention, ushering in a new golden period for him.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
Simultaneously, an apogee of the narrative classic system, with centralized figures in the frame and a camera that fits/frames them while perspectives a becoming constantly reshaped and accentuated - the best travellings ever made are from Mizoguchi -, being also a reading of women's role in a feudal society that even today, in our frustrated contemporary, remains regrettably acutely, of an over-romantic dimension.
There was a big difference in my emotional response to "Sansho" and "Ugetsu" compared to Oharu. In the first two, I became 100 percent invested in the characters and their specific circumstances. The impact in this one was thematic, when I thought about how cruel the action of "ownership" can become, specifically of the lives of women at this time.
The world outside of Japan finally sat up and took notice of Kenji Mizoguchi in 1952 with the release of THE LIFE OF OHARU, the director's exquisitely sad tale of a lady in waiting who, through a series of unfortunate events and tragedies, falls from grace to become a prostitute. His flair for strong female characters is on full display here, centering around Kinuyo Tanaka's mesmerizing performance in the title role.
The film that sums up in the best possible way what Kenji Mizoguchi's work is about. Every sequence of it is a great moment of Cinema, with the idyll with Katsunosuke (T. Mifune) being my clear favourite.
Every time I watch this I ask myself, Can someone live their life through a few films like this one, disregarding everything that isn't the work of a master, unaware of obscure directors, just replaying a few magnificent scenes over in their mind for all their days? It would drive you mad for sure, but the quickest path to madness is perhaps the one that yields the most illumination on the way.
A tragic,heartbreaking tale that works as feminist awareness.Throughout her life Oharu is exploited as an object without feelings.Kinayo Tanaka is brilliant in the title role,aging from 18--50's,trying to keep some dignity in a cruel world.
My experience with the film was greatly hindered by the sub-par print I watched, but for some reason I just couldn't get into this one. Everything seemed to be at an arm's length, and I never felt as if I was let into the film's world totally. The visuals aren't as powerful as they are in some of Mizoguchi's other films as well. Still it was worth the watch, and an enjoyable experience.