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The Life of Oharu (1952)
"Saikaku ichidai onna" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  20 April 1964 (USA)
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 3,362 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 49 critic

The tale of a 17th century samurai's daughter.

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Title: The Life of Oharu (1952)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Tsukie Matsuura ...
Tomo, Oharu's Mother
Ichirô Sugai ...
Shinzaemon, Oharu's Father
...
Katsunosuke
Toshiaki Konoe ...
Lord Harutaka Matsudaira
Kiyoko Tsuji ...
Landlady
Hisako Yamane ...
Lady Matsudaira
Jûkichi Uno ...
Yakichi Ogiya
Eitarô Shindô ...
Kahe Sasaya
Akira Ôizumi ...
Fumikichi, Sasaya's Friend
Kyôko Kusajima ...
Sodegaki
Masao Shimizu ...
Kikuoji
Daisuke Katô ...
Tasaburo Hishiya
Toranosuke Ogawa ...
Yoshioka
Hiroshi Oizumi ...
Manager Bunkichi
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Storyline

A fifty-year-old prostitute, no longer able to attract men, looks back on her sad life. Once a lady-in-waiting at the imperial court at Kyoto, Oharu fell in love with, and became the lover of, a man below her station. They were discovered, and Oharu and her family were exiled. For Oharu there followed a life filled with one sorrow and humiliation after another. Written by George S. Davis <mgeorges@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 April 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Diary of Oharu  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film, which was director Kenji Mizoguchi's dream project, was severely under-financed, and the production was forced to use a warehouse instead of a regular sound stage. This warehouse happened to be located near railways, and each time a train passed by, they had to stop shooting, which made the shooting of the film even more difficult with the director's obsessive use of long, continuous, uninterrupted takes. The same warehouse was also used for Josef Von Sternberg's film 'The Saga of Anatahan'. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits shown over Japanese artwork/water-colors. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Flowing (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

Beautiful but depressing
5 July 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Mizoguchi's exquisite compositions and direction, along with the fine pacing and excellent acting, make this a must-see, but I don't think I'll see it again anytime soon.

To Western eyes, anyway, this story of a 17th Century woman's downfall -- from growing up in the Imperial Court to dying as a broken streetwalker, is affecting but frustrating.

Mizoguchi's point about the cruel limitations on Japanese women's lives during this period is made clearly, but Oharu's passivity is maddening. People cheat, seduce, betray, and ruin her again and again -- and she just bows her head and takes it.

This may be historically and culturally accurate, but it doesn't improve the story, which becomes a bit monotonous at times.

OHARU is a fine film, but as characters I prefer the spunkier, better-characterized prostitutes of STREET OF SHAME, the director's final film.


7 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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