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Osaka Elegy (1936)
"Naniwa erejî" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  31 January 1979 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 944 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 24 critic

Ayako becomes the mistress of her boss, Mr. Asai, so she can pay her father's debt, and prevent him from going to prison for embezzlement. She also sends money to her brother Hiroshi to pay... See full summary »

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(dialogue), (story), 2 more credits »
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Title: Osaka Elegy (1936)

Osaka Elegy (1936) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Isuzu Yamada ...
Ayako Murai
Seiichi Takegawa ...
Junzo Murai
Chiyoko Ôkura ...
Sachiko Murai
Shinpachirô Asaka ...
Hiroshi Murai
Benkei Shiganoya ...
Sonosuke Asai
...
Sumiko Asai
Kensaku Hara ...
Susumu Nishimura
Shizuko Takizawa ...
Mine Fukuda, the maid
Eitarô Shindô ...
Yoshizo Fujino
Kunio Tamura ...
Dr. Yoko
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kasuke Koizumi
...
Inspector
Mitsuzo Tachibana ...
Famizaburo Matsushita
Kiyoko Ôkubo
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Storyline

Ayako becomes the mistress of her boss, Mr. Asai, so she can pay her father's debt, and prevent him from going to prison for embezzlement. She also sends money to her brother Hiroshi to pay his university tuition, but her father intercepts it. She tricks Mr. Fujino into giving her money so that she can marry her boyfriend Nishimura, but Fujino calls in the police. Written by Will Gilbert

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Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

31 January 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Naniwa Elegy  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Connections

Featured in The Story of Film: An Odyssey: Episode #1.5 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Bunraku
26 March 2012 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

I believe the challenge here was to conceive of a film in terms of bunraku - the traditional Japanese puppet theater - and extrapolate from the environment a structure, so one stage where heightened drama unfolds, controlled, with a view of the mechanisms handling the illusion, and then a second stage on the side to supply a rotation of music and voice expressing emotion. This is very well thought out, something to keep in mind when viewing later Mizoguchi where melodrama lacks annotation.

This translates in our film as melodrama about a bold young woman who gambles away on her dignity and reputation because the world around her is desperate for either money or sex, the controlling mechanism is that only the viewer is in possession of all the facts and so is able to read tragic fate in every exchange. This has been noted by some viewers as film noir, because the woman appears to function as a femme fatale, but the Japanese have no affinity for this sort of trope.

So of course, in accordance with bunraku, the woman is a puppeteer but also herself a puppet, a figure on the same stage as the play she enacts, her movements subject to our scrutiny. You will note this in tandem with, and reversing, an earlier Mizoguchi - The Water Magician - about a water artist whose life is merged with the transitory flows she used to control.

This is beautifully rendered in a scene where she is caught with her boss on a night out to watch a bunraku play. She has set a plot in motion, attempting control, an active role, but unpredictable life foils her. The wife demands explanations but seems the most irate for noticing the hairstyle on the girl, signifying a married woman, her role on the stage being supplanted even though it's a loveless marriage and thankless role. Moments before, however, we have seen an excerpt from the play, where inside the artifice, the controlled fiction, it was the suspicious husband accusing the woman of adultery.

This would have an ordinary ironic effect if mapped cleanly to the situation outside the stage, but it doesn't, it's wholly asymmetrical, the tension all in the imbalance of familiar elements framed askew. You have to puzzle about assigning to the players the puppet-master's controls. This is the touch lacking in Ozu's Floating Weeds.

The music is not in the emotional after-effects of storytelling, this too part of the heightened artifice. The music is in the camera, caressing day from night.


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