special-event-ugetsu-monogatari-oct-15thAlong with Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Mizoguchi’s film brought Japanese film to a Western audience in the 1950s and placed it at the heart of art-house cinema. Set during the civil wars of the 16th century, the story follows the lives of two brothers, Genjuro, a potter, and Tobei, a farmer, and their wives. Essentially a ghost story, the narrative deals with human experience and our desires and motivations. A film of great lyrical beauty. Some of the themes from our earlier film Kirschblüten are pre-dated here. (Cert PG)
Dir: Kenji Mizoguchi 96 mins Japan 1953

This screening will be introduced by Alex Jacoby, of Oxford Brookes film studies department, a regular contributor to Sight and Sound on Japanese cinema. The screening will start at 7.30 p.m.

Programme Notes

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Japan 1953 97 minutes Cert. PG

In the midst of the horrors of civil war in 16th century Japan, two village men set out in pursuit of their own dreams and ambitions, leaving their wives behind. Genjurô (Masayuki Mori) wants to be rich, while his companion Tobei (Sakae Ozawa) dreams of becoming a famous warrior. A story that begins with greed and ambition unfolds in unexpected and strange ways amongst idyllic scenes of beauty. Genjurô becomes involved with the mysterious Lady Wasaka (Machico Kyo). The fates of the two wives, Miyagi (Kinuyo Tanaka) and Ohama (Mitsuko Mito), form a counterpoint to the men’s adventures.

Genjurô – Masayuki Mori
Tobei – Eitarô Ozawa (as Sakae Ozawa)
Miyagi (Genjurô’s wife) – Kinuyo Tanaka
Ohama (Tobei’s wife) – Mitsuko Mito
Lady Wakasa – Machico Kyô

Director – Kenji Mizoguchi
Screenplay – Yoshikata Yoda
Cinematography – Kazuo Miyagawa
Original Music – Fumio Hyasaka/Ichirô Saitô
Producer – Masaichi Nagata

“Displaying all the hallmarks of Kenji Mizoguchi’s quietly affecting style, this landmark film has been one of the most highly-praised Japanese movies…” Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide

“one of the greatest of all films – one which, along with Kurosawa’s Rashomon, helped introduce Japanese cinema to Western audiences” Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“immediately hailed as one of the most beguiling films ever made, whetting Western audiences’ appetite for Eastern exoticism” Dan Harper,

Ugetsu is one of the crowning works of Japan’s postwar movie renaissance, one of a number of masterpieces (Oharu, Sansho the Bailiff) he made before his death in 1956 at the age of 58.” Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune


“Amazing. Fantastic photography and stunning contrasts – restlessness vs. total calm, reality vs. dreams, all juxtaposed to make a great experience.”

“An inspired choice – thank you, Committee.”

“Beautiful, deep and complex”

“Absorbing and haunting”

“An enthralling fable! Totally absorbing.”

“Excellent introduction [by Alex Jacoby, lecturer in Japanese film studies at the Modern Languages Department of Oxford Brookes University] and very clearly presented.”

“The music was mesmerising and the cinematography very elegant but it might take a second viewing to appreciate [this film’s] great acclaim.”

“Somehow I’ve never seen this before – excellent! The speaker was very knowledgeable. [I thought] the boat scene was very Turneresque.”

“Money and ambition can be dangerous, even in the throes of war. In wanting to be a Samurai, Tobei was like a sort of Don Quixote. The ghost themes were especially haunting.”

“Maybe all a bit too strange and foreign to really engage with …”

“No more sake for me!”


A:17, B:15, C:2, D:0, E:0 to give 86%