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In eighth century China, the Emperor is grieving over the death of his wife. The Yang family wants to provide the Emperor with a consort so that they may consolidate their influence over the court. General An Lushan finds a distant relative working in their kitchen whom they groom to present to the Emperor. The Emperor falls in love with her and she becomes the Princess Yang Kwei-fei. The Yangs are then appointed important ministers, though An Lushan is not given the court position he covets. The ministers misuse their power so much that there is a popular revolt against all the Yangs, fueled by An Lushan. Written by
Good film, beautifully shot and made, but with a typical story...
Like with 'Zangiku monogatari', Mizoguchi has made a very beautiful film. The long tracking shots, deep focus editing, and vibrant colors are gorgeous. Yet the story in 'Yang Kwei fei", just like in Mizo's 'Zangiku monogatari' and 'The Crucified Lovers', is very typical and unexceptional. Be prepared to see ideal archetypes of perfectly virtous self-sacrificing women, stupid greedy and cruel men, and did I mention?...the cruelties of feudalism. I think such a simple story set during feudalism is a weakness in this film. It leaves a viewer commonly thinking: feudalism sucks (boy that's new), it's good it's over,...what's next? This is a perfectly valid critique. Mizoguchi's vastly better films are his realistic masterworks from 1036: 'Osaka Elegy' and 'Sisters of the Gion', as well as his late more retrained masterpieces 'Ugetsu', 'Sansho Dayu', and 'Life of Oharu'.
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