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Kenji Mizoguchi And An Analysis Of His Film Ugetsu

3548 words - 14 pages

Kenji Mizoguchi and Ugetsu:A Woman's Magical TouchA work of unsurpassed lyricism and emotional power, Ugetsu is considered by many to be Kenji Mizoguchi's masterpiece, and is frequently cited as one of the greatest films ever made. Mizoguchi, with Ozu and Kurosawa one of the three undisputed masters from the golden age of Japanese cinema , was born in 1898 in the middle class district of Hongo, in Tokyo. Kenji Mizoguchi grew up in poverty, watched his father abuse his mother and sister, and witnessed his sister sold into prostitution. His work was inspired by that of Josef von Sternberg, which emphasized elaborate, complex compositions of great beauty. Yet, a sense of responsibility must have guided his career: He grew up to become an obsessive creator of poetic films about the struggles of women.These characters and events from his youth--a sudden rise or fall in class; the oppressive or self-deluded male authority figure; the selfless, self-sacrificing woman who's ultimately destroyed--became the basis for his greatest works ( He depicted the role of women in maintaining an orderly world and redeeming men through unselfish love. It gives us a study in confrontation with the woman pitted against a man's world and lifts social concerns to a more universal plane. "He engages with his material on several levels of perception--realistic, aesthetic, religious, and mystical" (McDonald 116). There is a sense of the "Mizoguchi fervour, or intensity of feeling, and all dealing with women of the lower ranks of society, women who battle for survival, live instinctively, and sacrifice themselves for men" (Freiberg 8).There is a patriarchal ideology inscribed in Japanese films that create a sacrificial female figure. "For Mizoguchi the rights of women are merely logical extensions of the rights of man" (Cohen 80). Yet with the use of the idea of mono no aware , he created a theme where women were elevated to a martyr-like state--leaving females as the established form of mysticism, unfulfilled lives, and closure. There are two realities placed on the same virtual plane: the natural world and the super natural. There is a thin line between fantasy and reality that is difficult to decipher. Yet this, and the simplicity that belies the powers of emotions, are what created Ugetsu and marked it as a masterpiece in the world of film.By the time Kenji Mizoguchi had created Ugetsu , Japanese film had already established itself in the film industry. Hailed by critics as one of the most masterfully directed and beautifully photographed films of all time, Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu blends stark reality with haunting, erotic imagery. "Ugetsu is simultaneously realistic, allegorical, and supernatural, and has a structure based on classical Noh drama ; its magnificent use of paranormic, long-take sequence shots attests to Mizoguchi's status as one of the cinema's most accomplished practitioners of mise-en-scene aesthetics" ( It is the...

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