Taki no shiraito
- 1h 50m
The tragic tale of a woman who despite doing good where she can gets punished by society.The tragic tale of a woman who despite doing good where she can gets punished by society.The tragic tale of a woman who despite doing good where she can gets punished by society.
A Spectacular Achievement
Before I watched this, I re-watched some of the excellent documentary of director Kenji Mizoguchi, which is included on the Criterion Collection collection of Ugetsu, possibly Mizoguchi's best known film. Specifically, I went to the part where Takako Irie, the star of this film, speaks. The film was made in the mid 70's, and Ms. Irie was just about in her mid 60's (she has since passed on). She speaks in measured tones, but praises Mizoguchi. She seems shy and reserved. Also, for her years, she was very attractive, so the notion was she was probably a beauty when she made this film at the tender age of 22. Make no mistake, she was. The Water Magician is exactly as the title states, a movie starring Ms. Irie as a water magician traveling with a group of other circus type performers. The fact that this film still exists is a minor miracle. Many films of this time have been lost forever, which was at least partially due to the war, which is a true crime. This film survives, and it is phenomenal. I can't say enough about Takako Irie in this film. She is beautiful, she lights up the screen and gives a standout performance as the magician. Usually man hating, she falls for a carriage driver Kin-San, who she tries to help into becoming a lawyer by sending him money for his studies while she is on the road. This is sometimes a hardship for her, and they communicate by letter, but she is faithful to him. It sounds like a great love story, but wait. It is a Mizoguchi film, so you know there is going to be some kind of tragedy in this tale. Two notes about the film: The film was released as a silent film, but in the Benshi style, which means that people who went to the cinema in those days had a performer (the Benshi) describe the film to that, even doing all the silent lines of the film using different voices. In other words, the film is only kind of silent. The DVD, which I purchased from Japan, has a choice of two Benshi to listen to, as well as English subtitles. The second thing was mentioned earlier, that many films of that period were lost forever, but this one survives. The quality of this film is, at best, decent, but it doesn't matter. The film is so amazing, you barely notice the fact that the picture is just adequate. I am certain this is the best copy of the film available, and it is way more than enough. At the end, I thought of this more as a Takako Irie film than a Mizoguchi film. If you have any interest in Japanese cinema, this is required watching. The incredible acting performance of Takako Irie is mesmerizing. Rest in peace, Takako Irie. You were talented, a pioneer (she was producing films at this age. Name an American actress that produced films at age 22. Remember, this is 1933!), and flat out beautiful. Congratulations for this. Anyone who sees this film will know how special you were and are.
- May 2, 2008
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