Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

aka - Chikamatsu Monogatari
Japan 1954
Directed by
Kenji Mizoguchi
102 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

The Crucified Lovers

Kenji Mizoguchi's third film from 1954 (the others were Her Mother's Profession and Sancho the Bailiff) although having a historical setting once again reflects one of  the director’s abiding themes, particularly in this his late period - the position of women in Japanese society.  Set in feudal times in Kyoto, the story concerns Mohei, the servant of Ishan, a well-to-do master printer and his attempts to rescue his employer's wife, Osan, from family shame after she tries to raise some money to help her feckless brother. Meanwhile Otama a young fellow employee of Mohei is being pressured by Ishan to become his mistress. This all inadvertently leads to accusations of adultery between Mohei and Osan, something which apparently was punishable by crucifixion in those times. The pair flee and genuine romance blossoms but tragedy bears down upon all concerned.

Based on a 17th century play, the treatment is stylized but nevertheless effective in its condemnation of patriarchal authoritarianism and hypocrisy. for anyone who loves traditional Japanese aesthetics this will be a treat with Mizoguchi's masterful mise en scène supported by a regular team of collaborators including a score from Fumio Hayasaka, script by Yoshikata Yoda, cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa and art direction from Hiroshi Mizutani together making this a first class to addition to a high-water period for Japanese film-making.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst