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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 <email@example.com>
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.
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