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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ugetsu (1953)

Set in 16th century Japan during the civil wars, two peasants have ambitions beyond their paltry existence. One, a farmer (Masayuki Mori) with a talent for pottery dreams of wealth and the other (Eitaro Ozawa) has dreams of becoming a great samurai warrior. Both men attain their dreams but at a terrible price. Based on two short stories from Akinari Ueda's TALES OF MOONLIGHT AND RAIN, Kenji Mizoguchi's film is one of the great treasures of Japanese cinema. I don't know that any verbiage can do it justice. Suffice to say, that Mizoguchi's fluid direction combined with Kazuo Miyagawa's striking images transcends the film's simple morality tale narrative. Balancing both realism and supernatural elements, Mizoguchi has spun a magical yet emotionally rich tapestry that you can't shake off ... and why would you want to? With Kinuyo Tanaka and Mitsuko Mito as the ill fated wives of the two men and the elegant Machiko Kyo as the ghostly Lady Wakasa.

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