Wednesday, 4 June 2008


Kenji Mizoguchi is on of my favourite Japanese directors and I have waited a long time to see this film. The Masters of Cinema series have done a wonderful job in finding a beautiful print of a film that has only been available on VHS in substandard copies. Reading about the film on Imdb I had geared myself up to watch a masterpiece so I felt a little let down when I realised that the film was having little emotional effect on me and I felt not real empathy with the characters however much I tried. Was it me ? Imagine my surprise when viewing the introduction to the movie by critic Tony Rayns to learn that Mizoguchi hadn't really wanted to make the film which was an assignment from the studio and further more one that was inherited from another director. On top of this Mizoguchi had split from his lover and regular leading lady and rowed continually with his egotistical leading man whom he considered far too old for the role. So, while this tale of doomed love is a perfectly adequate film by any standards it was not a happy experience for its highly acclaimed director. Performances are generally very good and all the technical credits are first class but the film lacks an extra spark. The original title translates as "A story from Chikamatsu" Chikamatsu being a very famous dramatist from Japan in the 17th Century although his reputation has never really gone beyond his homeland. The film, which takes certain elements from an earlier version of the story tell the story of a love between the wife of a rich printer and one of his employees and how they suffer for their indiscretion and the consequences for all around them. As I have said I found it less involving than other Mizoguchi films I've seen (notably UGETSU MONOGATARI and THE LIFE OF OHARU) but if you admire the director at all then you will want to see it.

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

Funny how you can sense when a director's not really into the movie he's making before you even know the details of it all. Well spotted!