Margaret Bodde (The Film Foundation)
Based on two of the short stories contained in Ueda Akinari’s Tales of Moonlight and Rain (first published in 1776), Mizoguchi’s most celebrated film arrives in the form of an initiation story which narrates the intertwined or parallel fates of four characters. The two women pay with their lives or their happiness for their husbands’ errors, allowing them to achieve wisdom through the shattering of their illusions. The film works wonderfully thanks to three elements. In each of his films Mizoguchi describes an aspect of human experience: in this case the most universal of all, which is to say war, against which all beings are forced to measure themselves. War is also good at revealing character; it exposes both Tobei’s obsession with glory and appearances and Genjuro’s greed and sensuality. Ultimately, Ugetsu Monogatari is the most dynamic of Mizoguchi’s films. It is characterised by a tension, a constant excitement, and none of the director’s other films has so many camera movements. This excitement calms down only in the fantasy sequences in which Genjuro experiences the ecstasy of love (in the sublime bathing and picnic scenes) and subsequently recognises the existence of other universes. As in Walsh’s Pursued and Dreyer’s Ordet, Ugetsu Monogatari sets out to describe the world in its cosmic totality. The depths of the human heart, the mysteries of the heavens, the visible and the invisible: these are the film’s boundless subject.
Jacques Lourcelles, Dictionnaire du cinéma. Les films, Robert Laffont, Paris 1992
Cast and Credits
Sog.: da due racconti di Ueda Akinari e dal racconto Décoré di Guy de Maupassant. Scen.: Kawaguchi Matsutaro, Yoda Yoshikata. F.: Miyagawa Kazuo. M.: Miyata Mitsuji. Scgf.: Ito Kisaku. Mus.: Hayasaka Fumio, Saito Ichiro. Int.: Kinuyo Tanaka (Miyagi), Masayuki Mori (Genjuro), Machiko Kyo (Wasaka), Sakae Ozowa (Tobei), Mitsuko Mito (O-Hama). Prod.: Nagata Masaiki per Daiei. DCP. Bn.
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