Utamaro, a great artist, lives to create portraits of beautiful women, and the brothels of Tokyo provide his models. A world of passion swirls around him, as the women in his life vie for ... See full summary »
Ishun is a wealthy, but unsympathetic, master printer who has wrongly accused his wife and best employee of being lovers. To escape punishment, the accused run away together, but Ishun is certain to be ruined if word gets out.
In the post-war, the sixteen year-old teenager Eiko seeks out the geisha Miyoharu in the district of Gion, in Kyoto asking her to be a "maiko" (apprentice of geisha). Eiko explains that her... See full summary »
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 ... See full summary »
Shinnosuke is introduced to Shizu as a prospective marriage partner, but he falls in love with her widowed sister Oyu. Convention forbids Oyu to marry because she has to raise her son as ... See full summary »
Hatsuko Umabuchi is a widow who runs a prosperous geisha house in present day Kyoto. Her daughter Yukiko returns from Tokyo following a failed suicide attempt, after her lover found out ... 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
This film is said by critics and scholars to epitomize the "one scene = one long shot" aesthetic of director Kenji Mizoguchi. In fact, there are many scenes that have no internal cuts, and the entire film contains almost no close-ups. See more »
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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