BLU RAY ONLY – LATE MIZOGUCHI – EIGHT FILMS 1951-1956 (12) JAPAN
A collection of eight films from the last decade in the career of celebrated Japanese auteur Kenji Mizoguchi. ‘Oyu-Sama (Miss Oyu)’ (1951) tells the story of two sisters and their ill-fated relationship with the same man. Tayaka plays the eponymous Oyu, the older sister of Otsugi (Reiko Kongo), who allows marital customs to dictate the lives of those caught up in this complex love triangle.
‘Ugetsu Monogatari’ (1953) is set in 16th-century Japan where the Emperor has become an impotent figurehead and rival warlords battle for supremacy. Impoverished potter Genjuro (Masayuki Mori) leaves his wife (Kinuyo Tanaka) and son to conduct an affair with the beautiful Lady Wasaka (Machiko Kyo). However, his romantic idyll is soon to be shattered.
Meanwhile, fellow villager Tobei (Sakae Ozawa) attempts to pursue his ambition to become a samurai. ‘Gion Bayashi (A Geisha)’ (1953) is a drama set in the world of the courtesan. Eiko (Wakao Ayako) is a 16-year old orphan, while Miyoharu (Kogure Michiyo) is the geisha who agrees to be her mentor.
‘Sansho Dayu (Sansho the Bailiff)’ (1954) follows an aristocratic woman, Tamaki (Tanaka Kinuyo) and her two children, Zushio (Hanayagi Yoshiaki) and Anju (Kagawa Kyoko), who are parted from Tamaki’s husband when he finds himself in trouble with the feudal powers for treating peasants with kindness. When the children are kidnapped and sold as slaves to the eponymous Sansho (Shindo Eitaro), each family member’s life is set on its own tragic course. Adapted by Mizoguchi from a short story by Ogai Mori, the film won the Silver Lion at Venice in 1954.
‘Uwasa No Onna (The Woman in the Rumour)’ (1954) is set in a modern Kyoto, where Hatsuko (Kinuyo Tanaka) is the Madame of her own geisha house. When she ends up persuing the same man as her daughter Yukiko (Yoshiko Kuga), both women are forced to examine their relationship and their attitude to the family business. Based on a centuries-old tale, ‘Chikamatsu Monogatari (‘The Crucified Lovers)’ (1954) tells the tragic story of a love affair between a merchant’s wife, Osan (Kyoko Kagawa), and her husband’s employee, Mohei (Kazuo Hasegawa), in an era when the punishment for adultery was crucifixion.
When a series of innocent events lead to the false accusation of an affair between them, the pair are forced to flee. On the run, the outlaw couple grows closer together, drawn towards the crime of which they stand accused. ‘Yokihi’ (1955) is set in eighth-century T’ang China, where widowed emperor Hsuan-tsung (Masayuki Mori) reigns alone, devoting his life to the composition of music.
When he falls in love with a beautiful young woman (Machiko Kyo), she becomes his princess, but the love shared by the couple is offset by political turmoil and corruption. ‘Akasen Chitai (Street of Shame)’ (1956) follows the story of five prostitutes working in a Tokyo brothel called Dreamland. Each woman has a different reason for entering their profession, but they all share the struggle to make sense of the red light district and its cycle of exploitation.
In Japanese with English subtitles
DVD available at – http://www.worldonlinecinema.com/Home/japanese-films-on-dvd