A tale of ambition, family, love, and war set in the midst of the Japanese Civil Wars of the sixteenth century.A tale of ambition, family, love, and war set in the midst of the Japanese Civil Wars of the sixteenth century.A tale of ambition, family, love, and war set in the midst of the Japanese Civil Wars of the sixteenth century.
The film nonetheless has some very impressive subject matter to its credit, dealing with war, greed and the line between reality and the spiritual world. Throughout the film we see two peasants progressively grow to lust for the riches of the world, Genjurô desires to sell his wares and become wealthy, while Tobei desires to be a samurai and have power. In time they both get to a point where this is a reality, where one of them fulfills what he desires, the other is led into a surrealistic haze by a demonic seductress. In the end the loss of what was important all along becomes apparent, and a message of humility becomes the films point.
Though it is not nearly as accessible a film as Kurosawa's period pieces of the same time, Ugetsu succeeds on a level that they do not. It brings an element of sheer beauty I have not been acquainted with by any Japanese director. The camera moves much slower as to give you a sense of your surroundings, to allow the film to become part of you. In doing this Mizoguchi distances some viewers, while at the same time bringing many to a level impossible with any other director (Eastern or Western). He successfully does what all great artists do, he makes his art truly great and therefore truly subjective.
There is not a lot I can further say about this beautiful film except that it is best taken on an image by image base with the real plot as a second consideration. When one has experienced the images the plot becomes more meaningful, and the result is one of the most beautiful films one will ever witness. I gave Kenji Mizoguchi's crowning achievement a deserving 9/10. Ugetsu is a beautiful flawless example of the cinema that I sincerely recommend.
- Aug 15, 2007