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8.8
/10
623 Ratings

The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums

残菊物語 | Zangiku monogatari

Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan, 1939
Drama, Romance

Synopsis

Kikunosuke, the adopted son of a legendary kabuki actor who is striving to achieve stardom by mastering female roles, turns to his infant brother’s wet nurse for support and affection—and she soon gives up everything for her beloved’s creative glory.

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The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
A masterpiece in the literal sense of the word—the proof that Mizoguchi could stand alongside the best directors in history as an artistic equal. The film is something of a cinematic manifesto, a depiction of the long apprenticeship, hard knocks, bitter rivalries, and personal agonies from which an artistic breakthrough is made.
January 31, 2017
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The film lingers in the memory as a suite of long-shot long takes – Kiku and Otoku cutting and enjoying watermelon slices together in more innocent times, Kiku grovelling at the side of Otoku’s deathbed when, far too late, they’ve been given permission to marry – unfolding at the speed of life. You can find echoes in the New Taiwanese Cinema and elsewhere, but to call it a ‘precursor’ to anything would be reductive; The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum simply is.
November 04, 2016
What distinguishes The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum, however, is the assertiveness of its stylistic deployments. In this prototypical Mizoguchian tale of lifelong female sacrifice in the male-dominated arena of kabuki theatre, camera placements are often so eccentric that we’re compelled to acknowledge the directorial decision-making irrespective of how it’s supporting the story.
September 15, 2016
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