Shinnosuke is introduced to Shizu as a prospective wife, but he falls in love with her widowed sister Oyu. Convention forbids Oyu to marry because she has to raise her son as the head of ...
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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 post-war Japan, sixteen-year-old Eiko seeks out the geisha Miyoharu in the district of Gion, in Kyoto asking her to be a maiko (geisha apprentice). Eiko explains that her mother - who ... See full summary »
In 8th-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 ... 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.
Special Forces commander Captain Tadamori returns to Kyoto after successfully defeating the uprising of pirates in the western sea of Japan. But because the high courtiers dislike career ... See full summary »
Young servant girl Hamako has just started working for her personal heroine, Madame Yuki. Her romanticized view of the Madame is broken immediately, as she is introduced with a list of the Madame's personal problems.
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 »
Set in post-war Japan, The Lady of Musashino tells the story of Michiko, a disillusioned young woman trapped in a loveless marriage. She confides in her younger cousin, Tsutomo, and the two become close.
Shinnosuke is introduced to Shizu as a prospective wife, but he falls in love with her widowed sister Oyu. Convention forbids Oyu to marry because she has to raise her son as the head of her husband's family. Oyu convinces Shinnosuke and Shizu to marry so that she can remain close to Shinnosuke.Written by
Mizoguchi was employed by a studio that wished, post war Japan, to target the womens market with superior, slightly racy melodramas. He directed what by todays standard seems an incredible number of movies in a few years, alternating personal projects like Lady Oharu with more commercial studio fare like this movie.
This is a top class example of the type of movie that resulted. The term 'womens movie' can seem a little derisive - but this was simply the market they aimed for. It is an adaption of a well known and respected book from the early '30's, although it is set in contemporary times, while the original was set in the Meiji period. In the excellent Masters of Cinema DVD, Tony Rayne's introduction suggests that Mizoguchi wasn't particularly proud of the movie, one reason being that he was forced by the studio to miscast Kinuyo Tanaka as the eponymous heroine, rather than a more elegant, disciplined actress (Hara Setsuko comes to mind as someone who would have played this beautifully). There is certainly a problem with the movie in that she plays the character as a more forceful, modern woman than was probably intended. But I think only those who read the book would find this a major problem.
The story concerns a young man who rather inconveniently falls in love with the beloved older sister (Miss Oyu) of his intended bride. His bride insists on going ahead with the marriage, but without consummating it, so that he can be close to Miss Oyu, who is a widow who must live at home with her in-laws to take care of her son, but by tradition is not allowed to remarry. Over the years the three-way relationship takes some predictably tragic turns.
The story is far more melodramatic than the movies of this period by Ozu or Naruse. It could have been pretty horrible in the hands of a less skillful director than Mizoguchi. But his astonishingly beautiful sets and his famous one cut scenes sets the movie apart. It really is gorgeous to look at.
These stories were and are seen by some Japanese as problematic, as they can be seen as romanticizing archaic sentiments. To my western eyes, I found it utterly fascinating. The manner in which people struggle under arranged marriages to find love and happiness is utterly alien to westerners, yet still compelling. I had somewhat low expectations about this movie as several sources dismiss it as very minor compared to Mizoguchi's pre-war and later period masterpieces. It is certainly not a work of genius to match Sansho Dayo or Ugetsu, but I found it riveting viewing and certainly not a minor movie by any standards.
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