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Osaka Elegy (1936) More at IMDbPro »Naniwa erejî (original title)

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Release Date:
31 January 1979 (USA) See more »
A young woman becomes a mistress of her boss in order to support her family. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
(3 articles)
User Reviews:
Bunraku See more (13 total) »


  (in credits order)
Isuzu Yamada ... Ayako Murai
Seiichi Takegawa ... Junzo Murai
Chiyoko Ôkura ... Sachiko Murai
Shinpachirô Asaka ... Hiroshi Murai
Benkei Shiganoya ... Sonosuke Asai

Yôko Umemura ... 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

Takashi Shimura ... Inspector
Mitsuzo Tachibana ... Famizaburo Matsushita
Kiyoko Ôkubo

Directed by
Kenji Mizoguchi 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Tadashi Fujiwara  dialogue
Kenji Mizoguchi  story
Saburo Okada  story "Mieko"
Yoshikata Yoda  screenplay

Produced by
Masaichi Nagata .... producer
Original Music by
Kôichi Takagi 
Cinematography by
Minoru Miki 
Film Editing by
Tatsuko Sakane 
Sound Department
Hisashi Kase .... sound
Yasumi Mizuguchi .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Tatsuro Horikoshi .... lighting technician
Kunitarô Yoneyama .... assistant cinematographer

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Naniwa erejî" - Japan (original title)
"Naniwa Elegy" - USA
See more »
71 min | Argentina:90 min | USA:90 min | Japan:89 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Junzo Murai:You're a woman... Being taken to the police station... Getting thrown into jail... You've done shameful things. You ungrateful child!
Ayako Murai:How could you say that? I never expected that I'd be treated like this when I came home. This is ridiculous! I thought you would welcome me with open arms. If I'd have known this, I never would have come back.
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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful.
Bunraku, 26 March 2012
Author: chaos-rampant from Greece

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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