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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Five prostitutes work at Dreamland, in Tokyo's Yoshiwara district. As the Diet considers a ban on prostitution, the women's daily dramas play out. Each has dreams and motivations. Hanae is married, her husband unemployed; they have a young child. Yumeko, a widow, uses her earnings to raise and support her son, who's now old enough to work and care for her. The aging Yorie has a man who wants to marry her. Yasumi saves money diligently to pay her debt and get out; she also has a suitor who wants to marry her, but she has other plans for him. Mickey seems the most devil-may-care, until her father comes from Kobe to bring her news of her family and ask her to come home.Written by
The film was so popular with Japanese audiences upon its initial release, and so poignant in its portrayal of the lives of prostitutes that when an anti-prostitution law was passed in Japan just a few months later, some said it was a catalyst. See more »
Upon first glance, this may seem like Mizoguchi re-hashing the themes and methods from his more successful films. And a lot seems to be read into the fact of this being his last film and, consequently, it somehow has to stand as a "swan song" or a culmination of his work. But it must be recognised that, form what I can tell, it was never meant to be so. This isn't like Kurosawa's "Madadayo" or Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander," but rather a more specific look at something he had always incorporated (the role of women in Japanese society) but had never attacked as specifically and focused as here. His famous female characters were appropriate vessels for his universal humanism, and he used their plights to make some of the more moving films of his era. But there is little universal going on in this film, it is a direct and poignant attack on a lack of change in a progressive area. The characters misfortunes all reinforce this ethical treatment, as opposed to examining any intrinsic leanings in the human soul. The film is more interesting than truly moving, and you won't see the emotional superlatives that are heaped on his other masterpieces. Still, it is an important film and it would have been interesting to see in which direction he would have gone after this.
4 out of 5 - An excellent film
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