Displaying all of the hallmarks of Kenji Mizoguchi's quietly affecting style, this landmark film has been one of the most highly praised Japanese movies, garnering the admiration of such directors as Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette, as well as a Silver Lion from the Venice Film Festival. Mizoguchi's fluid camerawork expands this otherworldly tragedy into a profound meditation on the transience of human life. In one of the film's most noted scenes, Genjuro relaxes in a hot spring as his beautiful spirit-lover disrobes. The camera coyly pans away, tilts downwards, and tracks along the ground. The barren ripples of ground dissolve to a Zen rock garden; then the camera tilts up to reveal the couple picnicking at a lakeside park. In this one elegant device, Mizoguchi evokes not only the passage of time but also emptiness and impermanence, as he passes the viewer through an unpeopled space. His signature lyricism frames unfolding human dramas as one small part of life's immutable ebb and flow. A brilliant summation of Mizoguchi's motifs and visual poetry, Ugetsu remains one of the masterpieces of world cinema.
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Presented in a manner as eerie as it is heartbreaking, this film is a gorgeous supernatural fable about the folly of men with dreams larger than their abilities, and the women who suffer as a result. In 16th century Japan, Genjuro (Masayuki Mori) is a potter who longs for wealth and luxury, while Tobei (Sakae Ozawa), a farmer, dreams of the glories of the samurai to the point of ignoring his wife (Mitsuko Mito). Though a war rages around them, they venture to town to sell their wares. Genjuro becomes bewitched by a beautiful yet vengeful ghost (Machiko Kyo), while his wife (Kinuyo Tanaka) is murdered by a soldier; Tobei becomes a noted warrior, while his wife descends into prostitution after being raped while searching for her husband.
All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
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