- Timeless 5/20/1999 12:00:00 AM by ecomcon-2
I first saw this masterpiece in 1973 during a special retrospective of Japanese films on PBS hosted by the former US Ambassador to Japan, Edwin O. Reischauer. I was 18 at the time. Twenty-six years later this film still holds a special place in my heart (did you not fall in love with Machiko Kyo?). It also reminds me that Kurosawa's shadow has unfortunately obscured the works of Mizoguchi and Konichika (my apologies if I've misspelt the latter).
Before writing this comment I reviewed the voter history and was dismayed to discover that three people ranked this film 3 or less on a scale of 10. Did I miss some flaw in this film? I hope this isn't too opinionated, but if you don't love "Ugetsu" then perhaps you should avoid foreign films altogether.
- Exploration of fool's dreams, supernatural and the outskirts of war 9/6/2015 12:00:00 AM by Vartiainen
Ugetsu, or Ugetsu monogatari, took the world by storm when it was released in the 50s, helping to popularize Japanese cinema in the West. Even nowadays it is hailed as one of the best to come out of Japan. It tells the story of two families that try to seek their fortunes while a war rages near their lands. Its messages are those of knowing your place, not extending your reach, avoiding the temptations of glory and flesh, the safety of home and most importantly the fact that sometimes the past and the afterlife are not yet ready to leave this world.
It's a multilayered story, focusing mostly on the husbands of the two families, as they travel to a distant marketplace in the midst of war in order to sell their pottery. Along the way they both face struggles and temptations that delay their return home. The contrast rises from the fact that whereas one of them is lead astray by his own need for glory, the other is seduced by a source he had no way of anticipating. Likewise the two wives deal with the missing of their husbands in very different manners, creating contrast.
The reason why I haven't ranked this movie any higher is because I have slight problems with Japanese live action cinema in general. More accurately with its pacing. Ugetsu is a slow film. Its tone is also surprisingly flat, which is another thing I've often noticed in Japanese films. It's a cultural thing, I have no doubt about it, but the fact still remains that I have problems identifying with any of the characters or the events because they're all performed with minimal emotions. Horrible things happen, but the expressions on the people's faces hardly change. Or, when the characters finally show any emotions, they overact. Most of the emotions have to be read from the context or from the dialogue. This stems from the heavy traditions of Japanese theatre, and while I respect it, I simply don't like it.
Ugetsu is an artistic film. It has heavy, deeply layered themes, archetypical plot and characters struggling against their fates. Definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a deeper movie experience. Personally I don't like it all that much, but I have a lot of respect for it.
- Alireza.Akhlaghi.Official 10/19/2018 12:00:00 AM by alireza-akhlaghi84
Strong tone is a result of Japanese movie that is all about the excitement of its time.In 1954, a film was created that alone denounced the situation of war and the issue of immigration for the villagers in an artistic manner.The base of story was influenced by the situation of people who, against the war, dose not forgotten life and are actually struggling to defeat the problems in their struggle with themselves and the conditions.Surely this story has loser too. they are not in conflict with the winning problems is evidence of realistic look of director and writer of the film.Of course, it should not be forgotten that the movie has a lifetime of 65 years, and sice this fair look is strongly encouraged and defined by a specific audience.Ganjuro and Miyagi Representatives of the vulnerable rural areas in contrast to urban color and glaze, in the struggle to resolve the internal and external conflict in the face of rainbow dreams and personal aspirations, to obtain or escape from the predicament of a higher level of quality, And ultimately cost them.The film is typically well off for trying to raise awareness about the issue of immigration.To some extent, the story is abstract and proceed with personal interests and superstition of genjuro, and it seeks to compensate for its momentous ambitions. Which ultimately faces a heavy cost.On the other hand, lady Vasaka, who has entered into the space with a deceit, with his special and artistic touch of time, opens up his connection and retreats to his subjective choice, and he returns to the village.The diversity and the existence of a special story in the art of the seventh art alone can have an effect that alone has an impact on the masses of society and is self-evident.Japanese films always have something to say.
- War Changes People !!! 10/9/2015 12:00:00 AM by avik-basu1889
'Ugetsu' is a Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi based on stories in Ueda Akinari's book titled Ugetsu Monogatari. At the basic level, this is a story about survival during the Japanese Civil Wars in the late 16th century. The film follows two married couples namely Genjurō and Miyagi, Tōbei and Ohama of the ōmi Province. They get uprooted along with a lot of other families when their village gets attacked by Shibata Katsuie's army. Genjurō being a potter decides to go to ōmizo to sell his wares to earn money. He goes to ōmizo with Tōbei and Ohama while Miyagi decides to stay back and take care of Genichi(Miyagi and Genjurō's son). While in ōmizo, Genjurō gets attracted to the mysterious and enigmatic Lady Wakasa and becomes overwhelmed by his interest in her, and Tōbei, who was always a bit of a delusional dimwit, gets more and more inclined towards living the life of a samurai and show-off his bravery and strength. Tōbei ends up seeking out Samurai soldiers leaving his wife Ohama alone and helpless during chaotic wartime.
Along with 'Rashomon', 'Ugetsu' is considered by many critics to be the film that opened doors for Japanese cinema in the western world and gave the cinema in Japan a global exposure. Like 'Rashomon', this film was also based on Japanese folk tales, but Mizoguchi's humanist filmmaking made it relevant for the 1950s and its relevance hasn't waned at all in the last 50 years. 'Ugetsu' belonged to a whole line of films that got released after WWII along with 'Rashomon', 'The Bicycle Thief', 'The Planes are Flying', 'Ivan's Childhood', etc. which looked at war in a critical way instead of glorifying. They critiqued the very purpose of war by brutally depicting its devastating consequences. Although 'Ugetsu' is set in 16th century Japan during the Japanese Civil War, for me it clearly is an allegory for Japanese society during WWII and the allegory here is a lit bit more overt and obvious than the same in 'Rashomon'.
This can surely be seen as a feminist film. We see the men fall prey to puerile ambitions and greed, while the women are left helpless and asked to fend for themselves during a time of war when they are more prone to danger and harm with ravenous and wild warriors running around everywhere. But the women in the film do what they have to do without showing any fear and without accepting defeat. After watching this film, I don't think it is possible for anyone to not fall completely in love with the character of Miyagi. She has unconditional love for her husband Genjurō and their son Genichi. She does whatever she has to, to make sure her son survives under difficult, harsh conditions, when Genjurō was spending time with Lady Wasaka. This film shows the hopeless nature of gender inequality that existed in medieval Japan and how women were extremely vulnerable.
The film as I mentioned before is an allegory for the Japanese society and the Japanese political system in the WWII era. Like Tōbei, some men are too drawn to the idea of power and will go to any lengths to prove to others that they are powerful by engaging in pointless fights. Genjurō represents those people who being led by unrestricted greed want to utilise war in their own way by making use of people's troubles to fill up their pockets. Lady Wasaka is very mysterious and interesting character. She is a very Mephistopheles- like character who lures Genjurō into her world by promising him eternal happiness, wealth and love. The Faust-esque Genjurō falls for her and abandons his own family. If the people sitting on thrones are led by the greed for power and the greed for lust and wealth, it can sometimes lead to irreparable damage to their country and its people. This might sound preachy, but the film presents this through the screenplay instead of blatant sermons. The film is also a commentary on the disappearance of Buddhist ideals and principals in modern Japanese society.
Along with Mizoguchi's style of storytelling, one can't help but admire the skill of his camera work. The film has many beautiful wide shots which serve both purposes - beauty as well as thematic relevance. There are some seamless transitions from one scene to another. Mizoguchi also beautifully builds tension and sets a Gothic creepy atmosphere in certain scenes which lends the film a genuine horror element. However, 'Ugetsu' like 'Rashomon' ends in a very optimistic and emotional note.
'Ugetsu' is a film whose importance and significance in film history can never be questioned. It is an artistic allegory of life during wartime. As long as the concept of war exists in human society, this film will continue to have significant relevance.
- Ugetsu Good 9/5/2015 12:00:00 AM by mmendez-22089
Now these are the type of films that give me a reason to critique work. In Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugestu, I was moved and tossed through a loop, but in the end it was definitely worth it.
I am fascinated by the Japanese culture especially the different eras/periods that they went though. The title of the film is based on a book, two in fact, called "Tales of the Moon and Rain" (I am trying my best not to add any spoilers to this entry.)
The film takes place in the 16th century Civil-War period. These were desperate times of survival, mostly for men who would have the main duty of protecting the family. The protagonist in this story, Genj?r?, has a wife and a child. They are in need of money and his pottery is beginning to sell very well on ACCOUNT of the war going on. It is when a group of bandits come into their small village and demand strict labor upon any man they can find. Luckily, Genj?r?'s family gets away just in time. They set sail to a bigger town, so he can sell more of his crafts. To accompany him is a man named Tobei and his wife. Tobei is sort of the dimwitted character that needs a purpose. Though, everything he needs is right in from of him (a wife, friends, food, a decent job, etc.), he has a dream to one day be a samurai. This you can tell is not a good idea, since he is gullible and really bad with his savings. But at least he is helping Genj?r? and his family get by.
It is when Genj?r?'s wife has to stay back with the child so that they can travel more cautiously. There have been pirates lurking around and it was not necessary to risk it. In the town that Genj?r?, Tobei, and his wife sell the pottery, Genj?r? comes across a mysterious maiden with hikimayu eyebrows, Lady Wakasa, who invites him up to her secluded manor with her and her servant lady. This is probably where I should stop.
The film definitely took me by surprise. I actually thought it was a horror flick at first. Either way, I was not disappointed to find out that is was a fantasy/drama/mystery. It kept me interested the whole way through. I would have to say my favorite character that goes through the change is simply Tobei. His aspiring hope for becoming a true man and brave warrior take a turn.. for whatever you want to look at it. I found him and his wife's story, which sort of breaks off from Genj?r?'s in the middle, very touching and heartfelt.