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Ugetsu Monogatari (Tales Of The Rain And Moon) +
Oyu-Sama (Miss Oyu)

Ugetsu Monogatari + Oyu-Sama “The most revered
  Japanese filmmakers of
  all time are Akira
  Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu,
  Mikio Naruse and Kenji
  Mizoguchi — who is
  responsible for Ugetsu
and Oyu-
. 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.

Ugetsu Monogatari (Tales Of The Rain And Moon)The 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 a samurai.

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 Monogatari

Oyu-Sama (Miss Oyu) “A poignant and
  contemplative tale of
  two sisters and their
  ill-fated relationship
  with the same man,
  Oyu-Sama (Miss Oyu)
  is another literary
  adaptation — this time
  of a story by one of
  Japan’s modern literary
  masters, novelist
  Tanizaki Jun

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 their consent.

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.

The 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