Monogatari + Uwasa no Onna
films Directed by
Kenji Mizoguchi, Chikamatsu Monogatari
one of his most
respected and well-known
and Uwasa no
Onna, 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
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.
set in Kyoto, but
this time in the mid-20th
(The Woman in the
Rumour) was released
in the same year and
offers a contrasting
portrait of attitudes and
mores concerning love
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.
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
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 MizoguchiandJapan) 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.