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

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  20 April 1964 (USA)
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 3,719 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 51 critic

Follows a woman's fight and survival amid the vicissitudes of life and the cruelty of the society.

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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 »

Parents Guide:

 »
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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 »

Quotes

Katsunosuke: Lady Oharu, a human being - no, woman - can only be happy if she marries for love. Rank and money don't mean happiness.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in 100 Years of Japanese Cinema (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
dignity in disgrace
24 December 2011 | by (Japan) – See all my reviews

Mizoguchi's empathy for female characters is legendary. The Life of Oharu is one outstanding example. One woman's journey from member of the imperial court to elderly streetwalker is narrated in exquisite, shimmering, painful style. Oharu (Kinuyo Tanaka) is seduced by a man below her station. Her crime is to love the man back unreservedly. That action becomes the catalyst for a series of degradations punctuated by false dawns, as Oharu's life spirals to rock bottom. And as bleak and depressing as that sounds, Mizoguchi's storytelling, combined with Tanaka's dignified portrayal, make this film cathartic, a tragedy with a small, life-affirming message at its heart. It is a cautionary tale to the follies of social mores, and the burden that women through the ages have to endure. More than that, it is a tale of one woman's dignity through the most humiliating of circumstances. Stunning.


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