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Chikamatsu Monogatari + Uwasa no Onna
Chikamatsu Monogatari (A Tale From Chikamatsu / The Crucified Lovers) “Two films Directed by
  Kenji Mizoguchi,
  Chikamatsu Monogatari
  — one of his most
  respected and well-known
and Uwasa no
, a lesser-known
  rarity, are the second of
  four double-bill DVD
  releases in The Masters
  of Cinema Series

SELECTED FOR THE FESTIVAL OF ARTS 29th Year of the Showa Era (1954), Chikamatsu Monogatari is story of a terrible injustice and betrayal in a brutal Japanese society of arranged marriages, inequality and cruel punishments.

Taken from a centuries-old tale that was based on fact, Chikamatsu Monogatari (A Tale From Chikamatsu or The Crucified Lovers) is about Osan (Kyoko Kagawa) — the young wife of wealthy Kyoto merchant and renowned printer Ishun (Eitaro Shindo) — who discovers that her husband has been making unwelcome overtures towards one of his workers, Otama (Yoko Minamida).

In order to stop his advances, Otama tells Ishun that she is engaged to fellow employee Mohei (Kazuo Hasegawa), who is held in high regard by both Ishun and his wife. Unknown to Ishun — who has refused financial help to both his own and his wife's family — Mohei has agreed to help Osan and falsifies a document to get money for her mother and brother.

Mohei has been seen using his employer's seal and comes clean to Ishun, but Otama tells him that Mohei acted out of pity for her and that the money was for her uncle. Otama, certain that Ishun is to visit her that night, confides in her mistress and the angry Osan takes her place to await her husband. But Mohei goes to Otama's room to thank her for trying to help and finds Osan. He begs her not to become involved for her own sake, but it is his presence there that is to lead
to tragic repercussions.

Ishun discovers his wife with his employee and, concluding that the innocent pair are lovers, imprisons Mohei. This false accusation — in an era when the punishment for adultery was crucifixion — could have dire consequences, so Mohei escapes and flees with the terrified Osan from an almost certain death sentence.

Mohei and Osan go on the run, narrowly escaping discovery at every turn. Osan bemoans fate, saying: "Even in a single day we have been reduced to this." But as they seek refuge from their pursuers, the couple grow closer, drawn towards the very crime of which they are accused.

In the hands of Mizoguchi, Chikamatsu Monogatari explores the lives
of two people caught up in a constricted world where true love and social obligation may not be compatible. His sympathetic portrayal of the lovers' dilemma lead famed director Akira Kurosawa to described the film as "a great masterpiece that could only have been made by Mizoguchi."

Produced by Masaichi Nagata, Chikamatsu Monogatari is from an original story by Chikamatsu Monzaemon. The screenplay is by Yoshikata Yoda and the subtle music is by Fumio Hayasaka.

Chikamatsu Monogatari was nominated for the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955.

Uwasa no Onna (The Woman in the Rumour)Also set in Kyoto, but
  this time in the mid-20th
Uwasa no Onna
  (The Woman in the
) was released
  in the same year and
  offers a contrasting
  portrait of attitudes and
  mores concerning love
  and relationships...

THE WOMAN OF THE RUMOUR IS HATSUKO (Kinuyo Tanaka, the star of countless Mizoguchi films and in her last role for the director with whom she was often romantically linked), the madame of a modern geisha house called Izutsu House.

When her daughter Yukiko (Yoshiko Kuga) tries to commit suicide due to a failed relationship, her mother brings her back from her studies in Tokyo to live with her. But Hatsuko cannot find out what drove the
girl to such a desperate action.

Hatsuko has had a long and comfortable relationship with Doctor Matoba (Tomoemon Otani), a doctor who tends to the geishas under her care. She offers financial help to him in the hope that they can be together, but when she asks him to examine her daughter in order to find out what is wrong with her he ends up falling in love with Yukiko. "Most men," he tells the girl, "hold questionable views. You must have seen men behaving badly as you were brought up here." And indeed she has.

Yukiko is already resented by the geishas, who consider their hard work has paid for the girl's education and that — because the westernised Yukiko holds strong views on the exploitation of geishas and sees her home as little more than a brothel — she looks down on them.

The central themes of Uwasa no Onna are a mother's jealousy of her daughter and the daughter's resentment of her mother's profession and there are valuable lessons to be learned. The film shows the kindness of the mother towards her charges and the kindness of her daughter towards Usugumo (Kimiko Tachibana), a geisha who is sick. When Yukiko refers to being a geisha as an awful profession, the doctor replies: "There seems to be no limit to the sins that people commit."

One interesting moment is when Hatsuko, Yukiko and the doctor go to a Noh theatre production. Cleverly, there are parallels to the central characters' lives — "She's head over heels in love," says the actor from the stage, "and one cannot deny love, there is nothing you can do." There is also a scene where an older woman in love with a younger man is mocked, upsetting Hatsuko.

Yukiko and Hatsuko are forced to confront their attitudes towards
each other and to the family business. A mutual, deeper understanding develops between the two and unfortunate events are turned to a satisfactory outcome. This worthwhile and thought-provoking film promotes the realisation that there is more than one point of view to
a situation — however wrong it may appear to be.

The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Chikamatsu Monogatari + Uwasa no Onna for the first time on DVD in the UK. Release date 25 February 2008 | Catalogue No EKA50035 | Barcode 5060000500356 | RRP 24.99 | Certificate 12 | Running Time 102/
84 minutes | Format B&W | World Cinema/Drama | Director Kenji Mizoguchi | 1954 Japan.

Special Features — 2 x disc special edition containing new film restorations of both films | New and improved English subtitles | Video discussions about both Chikamatsu Monogatari and Uwasa no Onna by acclaimed Japanese film expert/critic, festival programmer and filmmaker Tony Rayns | Original theatrical trailers | 56-page booklet featuring writing by Keiko I McDonald (author of Mizoguchi) and Mark Le Fanu (author of Mizoguchi and Japan) as well as extracts from Chikamatsu Monzaemon's The Almanac of Love and Ihara Saikaku's What The Seasons Brought To The Almanac-Maker, texts adapted by Mizoguchi in Chikamatsu Monogatari.

Alongside Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse, Kenji Mizoguchi is one of the most revered Japanese filmmakers of all time. This double-bill, the second of four double-bill releases in the Masters
of Cinema Series, is a major event for any fan of classic cinema.