9.11.2006

Mizoguchi The Shakespearean



Update: Mizoguchi's: Ugetsu, Street of Shame, and Sansho the Bailiff are praised in this New Yorker preview by Anthony Lane,

“The Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi died fifty years ago, on August 24, 1956. In his honor, Film Forum has organized a short festival, starting September 8th, comprising half a dozen films. Should you enjoy those, you will have a mere eighty-four movies to go—an unfeasible task, given that many of them are silent, untraceable quickies from the nineteen-twenties. Nevertheless, the handful of films in the series, ranging from “Sisters of the Gion” (1936) to “Street of Shame” (1956), and including a six-day run of the celebrated “Ugetsu Monogatari” (1953), should be enough to back Jean-Luc Godard’s claim that Mizoguchi was, “quite simply, one of the greatest of filmmakers.” If you know the name already, that assessment will seem uncontentious; for many moviegoers—those familiar with Akira Kurosawa, perhaps, and eager to place “Rashomon” or “The Seven Samurai” at the summit of Japanese cinema—the more likely response will be “Who?”

"There are certainly fertile comparisons to be made between Kurosawa and Mizoguchi; and yet, to those who love the latter, there is no comparison. Kurosawa seems sweaty and overwrought beside the astounding formal finesse of a movie like “Sansho the Bailiff ” (1954). I have seen “Sansho” only once, a decade ago, emerging from the cinema a broken man but calm in my conviction that I had never seen anything better; I have not dared watch it again, reluctant to ruin the spell, but also because the human heart was not designed to weather such an ordeal."

Read more...
[Anthony Lane, Current Cinema, The New Yorker, 9.11.06]

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