Ugetsu (Ugetsu Monogatari)
Release Year: 1953
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Writers: Yoshikata Yoda (screenplay), Matsutarô Kawaguchi (adaptation), Hisakazu Tsuji (idea), Akinari Ueda (based the stories “Asaji ga Yado” and “Jasei no In” from his 1776 short story collection Ugetsu Monogatari)
Starring: Machiko Kyô, Mitsoku Mito, Kinuyo Tanaka, Masayuki Mori, Eitarô Ozawa, Sugisako Aoyama, Mitsusaburô Ramon, Ryôsuke Kagawa, Kikue Môri
Rating: Nominated for 1 Oscar: Best Costume Design, Black & White.
Sunday Classic #291, week 3 2020
The story of a family of poor Japanese potters during the 16th century civil war, whose lives are turned udside down by foolish ambition and fatal attraction.
The original title of this classic Japanese fantasy drama roughly translates as Tales of a Pale and Mysterious Moon after the Rain. A very poetic and very “Japanese” title! The title doesn’t really say anything about the plot, but somehow captures the feel of the film better than the short plot-description above. It begins as a realatively straight forward story, but slowly and surely becomes more and more mysterious and concludes in an unforgettable ending. The film helped popularize Japanese cinema in the West, and on can easily see why, as it is captivating enough as a story but also has that special Japanse feel to it. Director Mizoguchi (Snasho the Bailiff, 1954) is one of the most admired directors in film history and it althought the actors are great, much of the film’s qualities are down to him and the sense of the ethereal he manages to create. The film explores themes of family duty and the foolishness of playing with spiritual forces. Highly recommended and a good “beginner” film if you want to get into classic Japanese cinema.
NB: The trailer reveals almost the entire plot.
Ugetsu is one of the favourite films of both Martin Scorsese and Andrei Tarkovsky.
The original title roughly translates to Tales of the Moon and Rain but the title is often rendered in translation as the poetical Tales of a Pale and Mysterious Moon After the Rain.
The subplot of Tôbei’s fanatical quest to become a samurai is drawn not drawn from Ueda’s book but from the comic story “How We Got the Legion of Honour” by Guy de Maupassant.
Picture Copyright: trigon-film