Japanese Cinema: 4x Kenji Mizoguchi

The Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956) made many films that dealt with women and their problems. He has therefore been dubbed “the feminist director.” I saw four of his films:

  • 1951: Miss Oyu (お遊さま – Oyū-sama)
  • 1952: The Life of Oharu (西鶴一代女 – Saikaku ichidai onna)
  • 1953: Ugetsu aka Tales of Moonlight and Rain (雨月物語 – Ugetsu monogatari)
  • 1956: Street of Shame (赤線地帯 – Akasen chitai)

Unfortunately, this wasn’t my cup of tea. Wikipedia describes his style this way:

Mizoguchi’s films have an aesthetic that is reminiscent of Japanese art. He favoured long takes and rich, painterly mise-en-scene, seldom with the Western-favoured device of the close-up; a typical shot can take a few minutes, and places emphasis on lighting and placement (…)

Although it was fun to watch a movie based on a short story by Ihara Saikaku (The Life of Oharu), the films mostly bored me – with one exception: Street of Shame. That movie is about the women in a brothel in a time when the city discusses a ban on prostitution. I found it engaging and surprisingly up-to-date, since prostitution was banned in Sweden in 1999.

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2 Responses to Japanese Cinema: 4x Kenji Mizoguchi

  1. erik December 30, 2010 at 21:14 #

    I’m gonna watch streetof shame soon. its on my vuze list. oharu is beautiful but its true, it does not stay with you.

  2. erik December 30, 2010 at 22:05 #

    Go and try to see Matsumoto’s “Funeral Parade of Roses” from 1969. Sort of Genet-meets-Oshima about a group of travestites who run a nightclub in Tokyo.

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