In Tokyo in 1888, Kikunosuke Onoue, the adoptive son of an important actor, discovers that he is praised for his acting only because he is his father's heir, and that the troupe complains ... See full summary »
In Tokyo in 1888, Kikunosuke Onoue, the adoptive son of an important actor, discovers that he is praised for his acting only because he is his father's heir, and that the troupe complains how bad he is behind his back. The only person to talk to him honestly about his acting is Otoku, the wet-nurse of his adoptive father's child. She is fired by the family, and Kikunosuke is forbidden to see her, because of the gossip a relationship with a servant would cause. Kikunosuke falls in love with Otoku, and leaves home to try to make a living on his own merits outside Tokyo. He is eventually joined by Otoku, who encourages him to become a famous actor to regain the recognition of his family. Written by
Along with "Sisters of the Gion"(1936) and "Osaka Elegy"(1936), "Zangiku monogatari" is a strong candidate for Kenji Mizoguchi's finest pre-war film. It is one of the greatest and most beautiful films I have ever seen - a profoundly sublime, heartbreaking love story between a Kabuki actor(Shotaro Hanayagi) and working class servant (Kakuko Mori) who makes sacrifices to herself to ensure his theatrical success. The film, filled with dazzling long takes and rich Sternbergian compositions, centers on Mizoguchi's characteristic theme: the shallowness of men and the generosity of women. Rarely has a Mizoguchi film seem at once so sublime and devastating in its impact. The final sequence alone is among the finest in all of cinema.
My favorite Mizoguchi remains "The Life of Oharu"(1952); "Zangiku monogatari" is not very far behind.
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