Kenji Mizoguchi

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zedz
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Kenji Mizoguchi

#1 Post by zedz » Thu May 05, 2005 2:11 am

Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956)

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Filmography

Resurrection of Love /Ai no Yomigaeru Hi (1923)

Hometown / Furusato (1923)

Dreams of Youth / Seishun no Yumeji (1923)

Harbour of Desire / Joen no Chimata (1923)

Song of Failure / Haisan no Uta wa Kanashi 1923)

813 / The Adventures of Arsène Lupin (1923)

Blood and Soul / Chi to Rei (1923)

Foggy Harbour / Kiri no Minato (1923)

The Night / Yoru (1923)

In the Ruins / Haikyo no Naka (1923)

Song of the Mountain Pass / Toge no Uta (1924)

The Sad Idiot / Kanashiki Hakuchi (1924)

Queen of Modern Times / Gendai no Jo (1924)

Strong is the Female / Jose wa Tsuyoshi (1924)

This Dusty World / Jin-Kyo (1924)

Turkeys in a Row / The Trace of a Turkey / Shichimencho no Yukue (1924)

Chronicle of the Rainy Season / Samidare Zoshi (1924)

Woman of Pleasure / Kanraku no Onna (1924)

Death at Dawn / Aka Tsuki no Shi (1924)

Queen of the Circus / Kyokubadan no Jo (1924)

No Money, No Fight / Musen Fusen (1925)

Out of College / Gakuso o Idete (1925)

The White Lily Laments / Shirayuki wa Nageku (1925)

Under the Crimson Sunset / Akai Yuki ni Terasarete (1925)

The Earth Smiles / Daichi wa Hohoemu (1925)

Song of Home / Furusato no Uta (1925)

The Human Being / Ningen (1925)

A Sketch on the Road/Street Scenes / Gaijo no Sukechi (1925)

General Nogi and Kuma-San / Nogi Taisho to Kuma-San (1925)

The Copper Coin King / Doka-o (1926)

A Paper Doll's Whisper of Spring / Kami-Ning-Yo Haru No Sasayaki (1926)

It's My Fault - New Version / Shin Onoga Tsumi (1926)

Passion of a Woman Teacher / Kyoren no Onna Shisho (1926)

The Boy From the Sea / Kaikoku Danji (1926)

Money/Gold / Kane/Kin (1926)

The Imperial Grace / Ko-on (1927)

The Cuckoo / Jihi Shincho (1927)

A Man's Life / Hito no Issho (1928)

My Loving Daughter / Musume Kawaiya (1928)

Bridge of Japan / Nihonbashi (1929)

Tokyo March / Tokyo Koshin-kyoku (1929) Cinema

The Morning Sun Shines / Asahi wa Kagayaku (1929)

Metropolitan Symphony / Tokai Kokyogaku (1929)

Okichi, Mistress of a Foreigner / Tojin Okichi (1930)

Hometown / Furusato (1930)

And Yet They Go On / Shikamo Karera wa Yuku (1931)

Dawn in Manchuria / Manmo kenkoku no reimei (1932)

The Man of the Moment / Timely Mediator /Toki no Ujigami (1932)

The Water Magician / Cascading White Threads / Taki no Shiraito (1933) Digital Meme

Gion Festival / Gion Matsuri (1933)

The Shimpu Group / Shimpu-Ren (1933)

The Mountain Pass of Love and Hate / Aizo-Toge (1934)

The Downfall of Osen / Osen of the Paper Cranes / Orizuro Osen (1934) Digital Meme

Oyuki the Virgin / Maria no Oyuki (1935)

The Poppy / Gubijin-so (1935)

Osaka Elegy / Naniwa Ereji (1936)

Sisters of Gion / Gion no Shimai / Gion no Kyodai (1936)

The Straits of Love and Hate / Aien Kyo (1937) Japanese DVD (no English subs)

Ah, my Hometown / Aa Furusato (1938)

Song of the Camp / Roei no Uta (1938)

Story of the Late Chrysanthemums / Zangiku Monogatari (1939)

A Woman of Osaka / Naniwa Onna (1940)

The Life of an Actor / Geido Ichidai Otoko (1941)

The Loyal 47 Ronin / Genroku Chushingura (1941-2, two parts) Raro Video

Three Generations of Danjuro / Danjuro Sandai (1944)

The Swordsman / Miyamoto Musashi (1944)

The Famous Sword / Bijomaru Meito (1945)

Victory of Women / Josei no Shori (1946)

Five Women Around Utamaro / Utamaro o Meguro Gonin no Onna (1946) Raro Video

The Loves of Actress Sumako / Joyu Sumako no Koi (1947)

Women of the Night / Yoru no Onna Tachi (1948)

My Love Has Been Burning / Waga Koi wa Moenu (1949)

Portrait of Madame Yuki / Yuki Fujin Ezu (1950) Japanese DVD (no English subs)

Miss Oyu / Oyusama (1951) MoC

The Lady From Musashino / Musashino Fujin (1952)

The Life of Oharu / Saikaku Ichidai Onna (1952)

Ugetsu / Ugetsu Monogatari (1953) Criterion / MoC

Gion Festival Music / Gion Bayashi (1953) MoC

Sansho the Bailiff / Sansho Dayu (1954) Criterion / MoC / Carlotta

A Woman of Rumour / Uwasa no onna (1954) MoC

The Crucified Lovers / Chikamatsu Monogatari (1955) MoC / Carlotta

The Empress Yang Kwei Fei / Yokihi (1955) MoC / Carlotta

Tales of the Taira Clan / Shin Heike Monogatari (1955) Carlotta

Street of Shame / Akasen Chitai (1956) MoC / Carlotta


Forum Discussions

Kenji Mizoguchi

Ugetsu (Criterion)

Sansho the Bailiff (Criterion)

Mizoguchi: Volume One (MoC)

Carlotta: Coffrets Kenji Mizoguchi

Films sans Frontieres

Cinema (French publication)

Raro Video

Digital Meme

Mizoguchi on DVD

Japanese DVDs

Japanese Films Not on DVD


Web Resources

The Films of Kenji Mizoguchi - Michael Grost

Kenji Mizoguchi - Alexander Jacoby (Senses of Cinema, 2002)

Kenji Mizoguchi - Acquarello (Strictly Film School, 2001)

Mizoguchi Kenji: Artist Of The Floating World - Alexander Jacoby (Sight & Sound, 2006)

The World of Kenji Mizoguchi - Gary Morris (Bright Lights Film Journal, 1998)


Books

Kenji Mizoguchi and the Art of Japanese Cinema - Tadao Sato (Berg Publishers, 2008)

Mizoguchi - Keiko McDonald (Twayne, 1984)

Mizoguchi and Japan - Mark Le Fanu (BFI Publishing, 2005)

Mizoguchi Kenji's Red-Light District or Street of Shame

Patterns of Time: Mizoguchi and the 1930s - Donald Kirihara (University of Wisconsin Press, 1992)

Sansho Dayu - Dudley Andrew & Carole Cavanaugh (BFI Publishing, 2000)

Ugetsu - Kenji Mizoguchi / Keiko McDonald, editor (Rutgers University Press, 1993)

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#2 Post by david hare » Thu May 05, 2005 3:44 am

King of Kong wrote:Well, I saw my first Mizoguchi film today - Story of the Late Chrysanthemums - and I'm mightily impressed. While on a first viewing I don't think it is a masterpiece, there was alot to like about this film, especially the cinematography and mise-en-scene - each shot was so well staged - and the sets so sumptiously full of detail - it was like watching a play. The Home Vision Entertainment VHS tape edition, however, is in a sorry state, with print deterioration and hiss throughout, and chunks of dialogue left untranslated. I do hope Criterion gets around to Mizoguchi. #-o
Kong if you can read any French at all buy the two French boxes. The prints are variable and Shine Heike is probably the worst, but the rest are pretty good, including a revelatory print of PRINCESS YANG KWEI FEI in which the color red takes on an altogether different power in the mise-en-scene. Also includes the astonishing STREET OF SHAME and so much else. I am tempted to buy the Spanish disc of ZANGIKU MONOGATARI ("Crysanthemums") although I dont have a word of Spanish. Would add there is a 35mm print of this in the possession of Screensound Australia although I can't vouch for its quality (but one could be pleasantly surprised - it used to appear in travelling retros during the seventies and always looked great, as did OSAKA ELEGY (but not any more....)

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#3 Post by King of Kong » Thu May 05, 2005 4:27 am

I know a bit of French, but I would prefer English subs ;). Those Aussie prints sound interesting. It's just that I know Criterion could serve up brilliant Mizoguchi (and Ozu, for that matter) discs, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for future releases.

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#4 Post by Lino » Thu May 05, 2005 4:40 am

I also watched my first Mizoguchi last Sunday. It was Life of O-Haru from the spanish DVD. The print was really old and battered but it did not took away ANY of the film's magic and splendour!

Right from the very beginning I was hooked - sweeping camera moves have always made a deep impression on me and Mizoguchi certainly delivers the goods in this film. There are crane shots that completely hypnotized me in their gorgeousness of execution. Beautiful really.

And the lead actress was also top-notch - I haven't seen a woman suffer this much on film for so long that I got all warm and fuzzy (not that I like the idea of women suffering but these are the kind of films that I can relate to on a deep level, so they're always welcome chez moi).

I look forward to buying the 2 spanish boxsets containing in total 10 films (I think it's one more than the french boxsets) thus continuing my exploration of his filmography.

I always love that feeling you get when you start to watch a film and know right away that you just gonna love it no matter what and you just can't wait to check out all the other films by that same director. It has happened to me on several occasions (Lynch, Bergman, Fellini, Solondz, Haynes, PT Anderson, Wes Anderson, Zwygoff, Allen, and a few others) and that's the reason I keep watching so many films - just to have that feeling again and again. It's like making new friends, really.

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#5 Post by david hare » Thu May 05, 2005 5:26 am

Annie I agree with you on that. OHARU is (IMO) a major Mizoguchi - even though , as I remember Michael Kerpan and I have had differences over it in a previous incarnaation of this forum. I am amazed at the lousy video quality of all present versions. I have seen it often in both 16mm and 35mm and the prints were always fine (but that was thirty years ago!)
And I agree the movie just sucks me in from the first scene, with the ageing whores joshing each other and Mizo's sublime segue from her regarding the Buddha to the first flashback (and cutting to a very young Mifune!!) Surely this is a formally great Mizo ( as are UGETSU and KWEI FEI?)

As to Criterion doing, say UGETSU or SANSHO - I still keep their LDs of these titles (in DVD-R form) but the French transfers are a marked improvement on both.

As for an ideal Mizo double - start up with OSAKA ELEGY (another Criterion LD from a terrible damaged print) and STREET OF SHAME!

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#6 Post by King of Kong » Thu May 05, 2005 6:06 am

Let's just say I'm looking very forward to watching Ugetsu, Sansho the Bailiff and Life of Oharu - some day. The only other film of Mizoghuchi's I could find is 47 Ronin - which is too long (close to 4 hours) to watch in a single sitting in the Uni AV library, and I've heard besides that it is a low-point in his career.
Last edited by King of Kong on Sat May 07, 2005 2:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#7 Post by david hare » Thu May 05, 2005 6:27 am

It is pretty minor but when you come to explore Mizo further you will find all sorts of "commercially" or "politically" imposed limitations on his pictures (a good example the fascinating R2 disc of "Lady of Musashino" which actually ends with one of Mizo's signature crane/pans up and over while a VO intones a hymn to the rebuilding of post-war Tokyo - all this following a basically squabbling family drama!!!)

BTW RONIN used to turn up regularly on SBS and is really pretty routine. Maybe another poster can oblige?...

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#8 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu May 05, 2005 8:36 am

flixyflox wrote:Annie I agree with you on that. OHARU is (IMO) a major Mizoguchi - even though , as I remember Michael Kerpan and I have had differences over it in a previous incarnaation of this forum.
I forget -- who was praising and who was challenging?

I consider this a great film too. Taken scene by scene, it is tremendous. My only real criticism is that it just piles too many instances of disaster on the hapless (and wonderful) Kinuyo Tanaka.
flixyflox wrote:As to Criterion doing, say UGETSU or SANSHO - I still keep their LDs of these titles (in DVD-R form) but the French transfers are a marked improvement on both.
I have rarely been more pleased with so cheap a purchase as I was with the French DVD sets. I am so glad I learned some French in my youth -- and married a wife who is fluent in French.
flixyflox wrote:As for an ideal Mizo double - start up with OSAKA ELEGY (another Criterion LD from a terrible damaged print) and STREET OF SHAME!
I actually lthink "Sisters of Gion" is a more successful film overall -- and a better companion to "Street of Shame" (my favorite Mizoguchi of all).

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#9 Post by iangj » Thu May 05, 2005 12:12 pm

I'm a great fan of OSAKA ELEGY myself. Is it because I saw it in the cinema (scratchy 16mm print, and all) rather than on a TV set? I recommended it to a friend (another fellow Kiwi, by the way, King of Kong) who was much less taken with it, seeing it on video. As he was with SISTERS OF THE GION, which I like even more. Quite blew me away, in fact.

I wouldn't write off 47 RONIN completely - a bit better then "minor" I think. The opening sequence of the confrontation at court, the way the formal social structures suddenly explode into physical violence, is a magnificent piece of filmmaking.

Still, I follow others with a definite recommendation for the French box sets.

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#10 Post by david hare » Thu May 05, 2005 5:23 pm

Michael as I recall we were both praising OHARU although you don't care for the piling up of disasters. To me this "melodramatic" text is not so different to the tribulations of the brother and sister (and mother) in SANSHO which is also a maginifcent work. Anyhow, what a sublime structure Mizo creates in OHARU', from the top (cut/fade from OHARU gazing at Buddha to her first love) to the end (OHARU wandering off into eternity) with all that passes in between taking on a similarly elevated level of meaning. I have no problem with melodrama as a formal construct in Mizo's work.
Now for a boxset of 30s restored prints......

Anonymous

#11 Post by Anonymous » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:01 pm

I'm quite curious to find out more about the 47 Ronin.

Reviews on the Web are remarkably variable: DVD Beaver really rates the film. Others seem to think it's far too slow and uninvolving.

What is Mizoguchi getting his characters to do in this movie if there's so little action? What are they discussing: the ins and outs of the Bushido code?

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#12 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Apr 12, 2006 7:12 pm

Most of 47 Ronin is about the leader of the group trying to hold his people together -- while dissembling (pretending that he and his lord's other retainers are all too beaten down to dream of seeking revenge).

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#13 Post by tryavna » Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:52 pm

The other thing, of course, is that virtually no action scenes occur in front of the camera, which is probably quite frustrating for many fans weened on Kurosawa or more graphic directors. In that regard, the movie is a bit like Greek tragedy, where all the violence occurs off-stage. My sense is that Mizoguchi is far more interested in ritual in this film.

Even though I'm not a big fan of this film in comparison to the other Mizoguchi I've seen, it's still fascinating to realize that it was one of the biggest productions in Japanese cinema during WWII. I wonder if the studio was expecting what it eventually got?

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#14 Post by Anonymous » Thu Apr 13, 2006 7:20 pm

I must admit to being a bit wary of Mizoguchi. I've only seen the Life of O-Haru and wasn't overly impressed. But there's obviously something there as I keep finding myself thinking about him. Maybe I need to dip into that Le Fanu book to see what all the fuss is about.

At the moment I'm reading a book by Brian Victoria about how the leading lights of Zen were falling over themselves to support Japanese militarism in WW2. It has left me wondering where the artistic community stood on this issue, particularly characters like Mizoguchi.

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#15 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:37 pm

Forget the Le Fanu book if you want any inkling of what goes on in Mizoguchi's films -- instead check out the relevant chapter in Bordwell's "Figures Traced in Light" and Kirihara's "Patterns of Time".

Mizoguchi was more in tune with war propaganda then most of his contemporaries. Ozu, Naruse, Shimizu, Gosho, Shimazu -- most managed to avoid doing much in the way of egregious propaganda. Mizoguchi didn't like taking himself out of the limelight, however.

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#16 Post by kinjitsu » Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:55 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:Forget the Le Fanu book if you want any inkling of what goes on in Mizoguchi's films -- instead check out the relevant chapter in Bordwell's "Figures Traced in Light" and Kirihara's "Patterns of Time".

Selections from David Borwell's "Figures Traced in Light" can be found at his web site.

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#17 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:00 pm

Some of the items on Prof. Bordwell's website are more like supplements to the published book.

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#18 Post by Anonymous » Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:19 am

Finally saw 47 Ronin at the weekend. This was only my second Mizoguchi film and with the reviews being so mixed and the only available source (the Image DVD) not being of the best quality, I was pleasantly surprised. Loved the opening shot of the Zen garden(?)/Pine Corridor, the flute playing prior to the collective seppuku, the performances of Chojuro Kawarasaki and Mistsuko Miura, and the 'dissembling'. Thanks to the previous contributors on this thread who promoted the virtues of this film.

Next up, Sansho the Bailiff. I've had to acquire this on VHS from the BFI in the UK so I hope the picture quality won't be too bad.

One thing seeing 47 Ronin has got me thinking about is this: if you could resurrect one director and have them make a film which would it be? I'd have liked to see Mizoguchi have a crack at the Ukifune section of 'The Tale Of Genji'.

Just watched 'Taira Clan' and was left wondering whether an allegorical interpretation was possible: during WW2 the Buddhist clergy were supportive of Japan's war aims and the cult of Emperor worship. At the end of the film Kiyomori shoots the palanquins, effectively causing the monks of Hiei to retreat having had their 'superstitions' punctured. Similarly, in post-war Japan, the myth of Hirohito's divinity had been shattered and the militaristic ethos espoused by the wartime government had been discredited. 'Nobility' effectively passed from the Royal Family to the people, just as it does in the case of Kiyomori.

Am I reading too much into the film? Or could it be seen as political/social commentary?

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#19 Post by Scharphedin2 » Sat May 20, 2006 7:58 pm

Not sure if this is old news, but the Italian Raro label, has a couple of Mizoguchi titles listed as coming soon:

FORTY SEVEN RONIN
UTAMARO AND HIS FIVE WOMEN
WOMEN OF THE NIGHT

Also, can anyone provide any kind of comments on the French double-features of Mizoguchi's SANSHO/STREET OF SHAME/YANG KWEI FEI/CHIKAMATSU?

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#20 Post by Titus » Sat May 20, 2006 10:50 pm

Also, can anyone provide any kind of comments on the French double-features of Mizoguchi's SANSHO/STREET OF SHAME/YANG KWEI FEI/CHIKAMATSU?
I recently picked them up but have yet to watch any. I sampled Sansho and it seemed lovely. I picked them up for a combined $72 USD at alapage, so I wouldn't hesitate unless you're patient enough to wait for possible Criterions. Someone mentioned that there are a few comments here and there that go unsubtitled--I didn't notice this in the 5 or so minutes I spent scanning Sansho, so I imagine it's not too bad.

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#21 Post by rlendog » Sun May 21, 2006 12:30 pm

Titus wrote:I recently picked them up but have yet to watch any. I sampled Sansho and it seemed lovely. I picked them up for a combined $72 USD at alapage, so I wouldn't hesitate unless you're patient enough to wait for possible Criterions. Someone mentioned that there are a few comments here and there that go unsubtitled--I didn't notice this in the 5 or so minutes I spent scanning Sansho, so I imagine it's not too bad.
Are the subtitles English? All the listings I've seen for the French Sansho (and most of the other French Mizoguchis) claim that there are no English subtitles.

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#22 Post by Titus » Sun May 21, 2006 2:01 pm

The Sansho packaged in a double-header set with Crucified Lovers from Films sans Frontieres has English subs, just as their other Mizo release does. Where have you looked?

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#23 Post by Billy Liar » Wed May 31, 2006 8:06 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:Forget the Le Fanu book if you want any inkling of what goes on in Mizoguchi's films -- instead check out the relevant chapter in Bordwell's "Figures Traced in Light" and Kirihara's "Patterns of Time".
It's good if (like me), you are a familiarizing yourself with Mizoguchi for the first time. It's a more of stepping stone rather than a great book though. One major flaw is at times he enjoys going off on a tangent or three, the point or issue he was trying to raise is lost in all the back and forth of his writing style.

It's useful rather than essential. I will order both the books you recommended above.

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#24 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed May 31, 2006 10:25 am

Le Fanu's book is not really optimal for beginners even -- as it is arranged so haphazardly. There really is no good English introduction to Mizoguchi at this point. (Bordwell and Kirihara are best suited for more advanced devotees).

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#25 Post by tavernier » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:04 pm

Film Forum (NYC) press release:

September 8 - 21 Two Weeks!

MIZOGUCHI

All New 35mm Prints! 6 days of UGETSU!

A celebration of one of the great masters of Japanese cinema and its greatest pictorialist, in all new prints. Opens with a six-day run of the hauntingly beautiful ghost story UGETSU, and continues with his best: THE LIFE OF OHARU, starring the director's muse Kinuyo Tanaka and, in his only Mizoguchi appearance, Toshiro Mifune; THE STORY OF THE LAST CHRYSANTHEMUMS, perhaps the director's masterpiece and one of the greatest films of the 30s; SANSHO THE BAILIFF, an 11th century folk tale and his most poetic work; SISTERS OF THE GION, the first film featuring his signature long-shot, long-take style (and winner of Japan's Oscar equivalent); and STREET OF SHAME, a portrait of Tokyo's Red Light District and the director's swan song. "With the death of Mizoguchi, Japanese film lost its truest creator." – Akira Kurosawa

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