Archive of films The Life of Oharu / Saikaku ichidai onna

Japan
1952, 137 min

Section: Tribute to Kenji Mizoguchi
Year: 2017

A 17th-century story cycle unified into the tale of Oharu’s decline from lady-in-waiting to common prostitute. The film balances sympathy for Oharu with a broader, Buddhist perspective, which sees sexual pleasures and social injustices alike as aspects of the evanescent material world. The stately pace and exquisitely controlled images and sounds won Mizoguchi a Venice prize, launching his reputation in the West.


Synopsis

Mizoguchi had wanted to adapt Ihara Saikaku’s 17th-century story cycle for several years (he left the Shochiku company because they wouldn’t let him do it), and it was his determination to match Kurosawa’s Venice prize for Rashomon that pushed him into making it for a small, independent company. He and Yoda unify the book’s episodic chapters into the story of Oharu’s decline from lady-in-waiting to common prostitute, stressing that all her setbacks are caused by the men who trick, disappoint or betray her. The film balances sympathy for Oharu with a broader, Buddhist perspective, which sees sexual pleasures and social injustices alike as aspects of the evanescent material world. (The sympathy, incidentally, was not found in Saikaku’s book.) The stately pace and exquisitely controlled images and sounds did win Mizoguchi a Venice prize, launching his reputation in the West.

Tony Rayns

Contacts

The Japan Foundation
4-16-3 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, 160-0004, Tokyo
Japan
Tel: +81 355 623 535
Fax: +81 355 623 500
E-mail: film_tv_and_publication_division@jpf.go.jp, film@jpf.go.jp
www: www.jpf.go.jp

Toho Co., Ltd.
1-2-2 Yurakucho, 100-8415, Tokyo
Japan
Tel: +81 335 913 530
Fax: +81 335 916 610
E-mail: tohointl@toho.co.jp

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm
Festival premiere

Section: Tribute to Kenji Mizoguchi
   
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Screenplay: Yoshikata Yoda podle románu / based on the novel The Life of an Amorous Woman by Saikaku Ihara
Dir. of Photography: Yoshimi Hirano
Music: Ichiro Saito
Editor: Toshio Gotô
Art Director: Hiroshi Mizutani
Producer: Hideo Koi, Kenji Mizoguchi
Production: Shin-Toho, Koi Productions
Cast: Kinuyo Tanaka, Toshiro Mifune, Ichiro Sugai, Toshiaki Konoe, Tsukie Matsuura
Sales: Toho Co., Ltd.
Contact: The Japan Foundation
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