Of The Rain And Moon)
Oyu-Sama (Miss Oyu)
Japanese filmmakers of
all time are Akira
Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu,
Mikio Naruse and Kenji
Mizoguchi who is
responsible for Ugetsu
Monogatari and Oyu-
Sama. These two films
make up the third of
four double-bill releases
in the Masters Of Cinema
THE PAIRING OF ONE OF MIZOGUCHI'S most respected and well-known films,
Ugetsu Monogatari, with the lesser-known rarity Oyu-Sama is a
clever marketing presentation and a major event for any fan of classic cinema.
Both films now come to DVD in the UK for the very first time.
Mizoguchi's Ugetsu Monogatari (Tales Of The Rain And Moon) is a highly-acclaimed
masterpiece of Japanese cinema. Based on a pair of 18th Century ghost stories
by Ueda Akinari, its release continued Mizoguchi's introduction to the West.
film was nominated for an Oscar (Best Costume Design, Black & White) and was
the winner of the 1953 Venice International Film Festival Silver Lion for Best
Direction. It was also voted No 29 in The Village Voice Best 100 Films of the
Twentieth Century and has made regular appearances in Sight & Sound polls of
the best films ever made. Quite an achievement.
An intensely poetic tragedy, Ugetsu Monogatari is set in early Spring
on the North shores of Lake Biwa in Omi Province, amidst the pandemonium of
civil war in 16th Century Japan. It tells the story of talented potter Genjuro
(Mori Masayuki), his wife Miyagi (Tanaka Kinuyo) and their friends Tobei (Sakae
Ozawa) and Ohama (Mito Mitsuko). Genjuro and Tobei are farmers who are dissatisfied
with their lot Genjuro seeks wealth and Tobei is obsessed with becoming
Since Lord Hashiba's forces arrived in Nagahama, business is booming. And, with
Tobei's help, Genjuro takes his pottery to sell there. The
pair return with money and Genjuro has gifts for his wife and their son Genichi
(Ikio Sawamura). "It's like the Bon festival and New Year all rolled into one,"
says Miyagi, who is more than happy to have just that bit extra.
However, Lord Shibata's troops are getting closer, robbing houses and rounding
up men for forced labour. The villagers leave, but Genjuro puts his family at
risk to keep the pottery kiln burning and once the pots are ready, they all
head out across the river.
Worried about the safety of Miyagi and little Genichi, Genjuro returns them
to the shore before going on with Tobei and Ohama to the marketplace and sell
his wares. But the two men's desires are to lead to tragedy and loss.
Genjuro is approached by a beautiful, enigmatic lady and Tobei aban-dons Ohama
to follow his dream of becoming a samurai. Both men get their wishes but in
doing so lose the things they hold dear. Who is the mysterious Lady Wakasa (Kyo
Machiko) who lives with her nurse (Mori Kikue) at Kutsuki Manor? Or the old
Priest (Aoyama Sugisaku) who speaks of the shadow of death, terrifying spirits,
forbidden love and exorcism and who insists on painting Genjuro's body with
protective Sanskrit prayers to the Buddha?
Tales Of The Rain And Moon (Tales of Moonlight and Rain) by Akinari Ueda
continues to enchant modern readers with its mysterious fan-tasies. Ugetsu
Monogatari is famed for meticulously-orchestrated, long takes; subtle blending
of realistic period reconstruction and lyrical supernaturalism. Intriguing and
spooky, it consistently features in polls of the best films ever made.
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, Ugetsu Monogatari is Produced by Masa-ichi
Nagata. The screenplay is by Matsutaro Kawaguchi and Yoshikata Yoda; Cinematography
by Kazuo Miyagawa; Art Direction by Kisaku
Ito and haunting Music by Fumio Hayasaka.
"The finest silk Of choicest hue May change and fade away; As would my life,
My beloved, If thou shouldst prove untrue. Our vow to love for a thousand years
Is sealed with this cup…" Japanese song sung by Lady Wakasa in Ugetsu
contemplative tale of
two sisters and their
with the same man, Oyu-Sama (Miss Oyu)
is another literary
adaptation this time
of a story by one of
Japans modern literary
CONTINUING THE DIRECTOR'S FASCINATION with the relationship between
affairs of the heart and the social mores that shape and sometimes destroy them,
Mizoguchi transforms his subject matter into the realm of the transcendental
through the use of long, mobile shots an approach that reaches its apotheosis
in a take of almost six minutes infused with humanity and emotion.
Mizoguchi regular Tanaka Kinuyo (who also stars in Ugetsu Monogatari)
is Oyu, the older sister who allows marital customs to dictate the lives of
those caught up in this complex love triangle.
Osumi (Hirai Kiyoko) is concerned that her nephew, Shinnosuke Seri-hashi (Hori
Yuji) does not wish to marry any of the young women presented to him. While
waiting for Oshizu (Oowa Nobuko) to arrive
in Kyoto to be presented to him, Shinnosuke walks out in the spring gardens
and is instantly attracted to one of the women in an app-roaching group that
he assumes is Oshizu.
But he has made a mistake the young woman is Oyu, the elder
sister who married into the Kayukawa family but is now widowed
and is anxious to see her younger sister's prospective husband.
At first, enamoured of Oyu, Shinnosuke rejects Oshizu. He and his aunt attend
one of Oyu's koto concerts, where she is exquisitely dressed
in 10th Century Heian costume and sings a Japanese song: "…it is as though the
storm is scolding the foot of the mountain; And the petals of cherry trees Fall
like snow; The movement moves me to compassion. The rains of spring arrive And
fall like tears. The blossom falls like rain. It is a world full of regret."
Shinnosuke's aunt tells him he would not be allowed to marry Miss Oyu because
she is responsible for her young son and the senior members of the Kayukawas,
her late husband's family, are very strict and she cannot leave them without
While out walking, Oyu collapses and Shinnosuke helps her. As she comes round,
she says it is like seeing the Buddha coming to save her from hell. When he
says he would do anything for her, she asks that
he should accept Oshizu and he reluctantly agrees. But on their wedding night,
Oshizu tells Shinnosuke that she knows he and Oyu
love each other and she cannot give herself to him.
When Oyu's son tragically dies she returns to her family, amid rumours about
her relationship with Shinnosuke. Oyu is forced to accept a marriage proposal
from a sake merchant in Fushimi but, as Oshizu tries to make her marriage work,
there is more tragedy to come…
The Screenplay of Oyu-Sama is by Yoshikata Yoda; The Cinemato-graphy is by Kazuo
Miyagawa and the Music by Fumio Hayasaka.
Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Ugetsu Monogatari + Oyu-Sama,
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, released on 21 April (2008) for the first time
on DVD in the UK at an RRP of £24.99.
Running Time: 97/94 Minutes | Format: B&W | Genre: World Cinema/ Drama | Year:
1953/51 | Country: Japan | Catalogue No: EKA50031 | Barcode: 5060000500318.
Special Features 2-disc special edition containing new film restor-ation
of both films | New and improved English subtitles | Video dis-cussions about
both Ugetsu Monogatari and Oyu-Sama 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 editor of Ugetsu) and award-winning translations
of Ueda Akinan's The Reed-Choked House and A Serpent's Lust, the
tales adapted by Mizoguchi in Ugetsu Monogatari.
"When you left me I had thought To cut the reeds That line the desol-ate Beaches
at Naniwa. I yearn more and more. The reeds are agitated I didn't cut them in
the end, Our paths then separated, Along the desolate Beaches of Naniwa. One
must not linger In this place From Naniwa to Mount Asaka…
"It was never destined to be this way…" Japanese song