Ugetsu Monogatari / Oyu-Sama [Masters Of Cinema]  [DVD]
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Mizoguchi's Ugetsu Monogatari [Tales of the Rain and Moon] is a highly acclaimed masterwork of Japanese cinema. Based on a pair of 18th century ghost stories by Ueda Akinari, the film's release continued Mizoguchi's introduction to the West, where it was nominated for an Oscar (for Best Costume Design) and won the the Venice Film Festival Silver Lion award (for Best Direction). In 16th century Japan, amidst the pandemonium of civil war, potter Genjuro (Mori Masayuki) and samurai-aspirant Tobei (Ozawa Sakae) set out with their wives in search of wealth and military glory, respectively. Two parallel tales ensue when the men are lured from their wives: Genjuro by the ghostly charm of Lady Wakasa (Kyo Machiko); Tobei by the dream of military glory. Famed for its meticulously orchestrated long takes and its subtle blending of realistic period reconstruction and lyrical supernaturalism, Ugetsu Monogatari is an intensely poetic tragedy that consistently features on polls of the best films ever made. Another literary adaptation this time of a story by one of Japan's modern literary masters, novelist Tanizaki Jun'ichiro Mizoguchi's Oyu-sama [Miss Oyu] is a poignant and contemplative tale of two sisters and their ill-fated relationship with the same man. At the core is Mizoguchi-regular Tanaka Kinuyo (who also stars in Ugetsu Monogatari) as the eponymous Oyu, the older sister who allows marital customs to dictate the lives of those caught up in this complex love triangle. Continuing the director's fascination with the relationship between affairs of the heart and the social mores that shape and sometimes destroy them, Mizoguchi transforms his subject matter into the realm of the transcendental through the use of long, mobile shots an approach that reaches its apotheosis in a take of almost six minutes infused with humanity and emotion. SPECIAL FEATURES: 2 x disc special edition containing new film restorations of both films. New and improved English subtitles. Video discussions about both Ugetsu Monogatari and Oyu-sama by acclaimed Japanese film expert/critic, festival programmer, and filmmaker Tony Rayns. Original theatrical trailers. 56-page booklet featuring writing by Keiko I. McDonald (author of Mizoguchi and editor of Ugetsu) and award-winning translations of Ueda Akinari's 'The Reed-Choked House' and 'A Serpent's Lust', tales adapted by Mizoguchi in Ugetsu Monogatari.
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Top Customer Reviews
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. 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.Read more ›
"Ugetsu" is set in 16th century Japan in villages on Lake Biwa in Omi province. We follow the lives of two couples who struggle during a difficult time of civil war, where as always the civilian populace suffers the most. One man dreams of becoming a samurai whilst the other dreams of making his fortune. Both are seduced by their dreams and the worship of false idols. They fail to see the riches that are close to them. Like all the great films it has something to say! The choices we make in life and human transience. Mizoguchi directs proceedings like a master puppeteer carefully orchestrating scenes, the strings held together by his dream like roving camera, a camera that constantly involves the viewer in intimate scenes. The final scenes are particularly memorable.
"Oyu Sama" or "Miss Oyu", another film made in black and white, also uses these same techniques in a film of manners and forbidden love.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Japanese title translates as "Tales of Rain and Moon." Initially as simple as a folktale, it develops into a rich and complex story with an epic sweep. Read morePublished on 15 Jan. 2014 by A reader in England
Terrific! The digitized version was great with no light blips and flashes. Just as i remembered it years ago on the big screen.
Kyo Machiko was superb. Read more