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Chikamatsu Monogatari / Uwasa No Onna 1954


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Based on a centuries old tale with roots in real events, Chikamatsu Monogatari tells the hauntingly tragic story of a forbidden 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 Osan and Mohei, the accused pair are forced to flee an almost certain death sentence. On the run, the outlaw couple grow closer together, drawn inexorably towards the romantic crime of which they are accused. Released the same year, Uwasa No Onna offers a contrasting portrait of attitudes concerning love and relationships. Set in a modern Kyoto geisha house, the film revolves around Hatsuko, (Kinuyo Tanaka), madame of her own geisha house. When Hatsuko ends up pursuing the same man as her daughter, Yukiko (Yoshiko Kuga), both women are forced to confront their attitudes towards each other and the family business.

Kazuo Hasegawa, Kinuyo Tanaka
Rental Formats:

Product Details

  • Chikamatsu Monogatari ages_12_and_over
  • Uwasa No Onna ages_12_and_over
Runtime 3 hours 6 minutes
Starring Kazuo Hasegawa, Kinuyo Tanaka, Kyoko Kagawa, Yoshiko Kuga
Director Kenji Mizoguchi
Genres Drama, Romance
Rental release 25 February 2008
Main languages Japanese
Subtitles English

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Format: DVD
Mizoguchi is the favourite director of many a "cineaste" - that his films are being put out on dvd by the avowedly cineaste Masters of Cinema label is a dream come true. So far the series is more than living up to expectations.
The format is brilliant - each release contains one classic and one lesser known related film, rather like a main feature and a supporting feature. This is a great (& affordable) way of quickly releasing a representative cross-section of Mizo films. As well as the 2 discs, each release has wonderful packaging & very substantial booklets with lots of photographs, original poster art, essays & translations of the Japanese literary source materials.
The only (minor) criticism I have is of Tony Rayns' short filmed introductions. While I normally respect Mr Rayns, here he merely recounts second-hand gossip about Mizoguchi & film company politics, virtually dismissing the films themselves as hack-work. I'm all for demystification but this is ridiculous!
What about the films? They are all black & white, postwar (40s & 50s). SANSHO & UGETSU are feudal period films, stunningly shot & overwhelming emotional roller-coaster rides. Both are extremely haunting - literally so in the case of UGETSU with its strange supernatural & ghostly elements. Both films are both regularly listed on "greatest films of all time" lists & probably need no introduction. If you are relatively new to Mizoguchi you should get the SANSHO & UGETSU dvds first. The other main feature CHIKAMATSU MONOGATARI is a bit erratic in tone but still excellent. It's another period film, telling of doomed adulterous lovers on the run who transgress every social code of the time.
I hadn't seen the three "supporting" films before but they turn out to be interesting if uneven.
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