May 25 - 30
By the early 1950s, Kenji Mizoguchi had already established himself as one of Japan's greatest directors, known for his mastery of the long take and his deeply sympathetic treatment of female characters. In the remaining years before his 1956 death, working primarily in the jidai-geki (period film) genre, he surpassed himself with a string of masterpieces that achieved a level of stylistic refinement and dramatic power equaled by few other filmmakers. We present new 4K digital restorations of two of Mizoguchi's late masterpieces, one an epic saga of a family sundered by cruelty and injustice, the other an intimate drama of forbidden love. Both films are enhanced by the luminous cinematography of Kazuo Miyagawa and the haunting music of Fumio Hayasaka.
— Martin Rubin, Associate Director of Programming
A Story from Chikamatsu
The Crucified Lovers / Chikamatsu Monogatari / 近松物語
1954, Kenji Mizoguchi, Japan, 102 min. With Kazuo Hasegawai, Kyôko Kagawa.
"A sublime, perfectly modulated story of doomed love...essential viewing." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"A film marked by breathtaking refinement at every level." - Tony Rayns, Time Out London
CHIKAMATSU has been overshadowed by the more widely seen epics of Mizoguchi's late period, such as UGETSU and SANSHO THE BAILIFF, but, make no mistake, this is a consummate work from a master filmmaker at the height of his powers. Applied to the more concentrated dimensions of a love story (though with a keen sense of the economic and social factors involved), the exquisite precision of Mizoguchi's mature style is made all the more apparent. Based on a play by the celebrated 18th-century bunraku (puppet-theater) dramatist Chikamatsu Monzaemon, it tells of two humdrum souls - the weak-willed, conformist artisan Mohei and his master's petulant young wife Osan - who are transformed when a series of unfortunate circumstances propels them down a slippery slope of forbidden love. In Japanese with English subtitles. New 4K DCP digital restoration. (MR)
Please note: This trailer does not have English subtitles. Our screenings of the film will be subtitled in English.
Sansho the Bailiff
Sanshō Dayū / 山椒大夫
1954, Kenji Mizoguchi, Japan, 125 min. With Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, Kyôko Kagawa.
"This is one of the greats, and I'm too much in awe of it to say much more than: See it - as often as you can." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"I have seen SANSHO only once, a decade ago, emerging from the cinema a broken man but calm in my conviction that I had never seen anything better." - Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
Although UGETSU is Mizoguchi's most famous film, many consider SANSHO to be his greatest - a majestic, moving work whose soaring humanism is rinsed of sentimentality by its bracing sense of injustice and its undercurrent of tragic irony. In the eleventh century, a governor's enlightened policy toward the oppressed peon class causes him to be exiled to a distant province, leaving his wife, son, and daughter exposed to abduction by bandits. The wife is sold to a brothel; the boy and girl become slaves under the harsh regime of the estate-owner Sansho the Bailiff. As the years pass, the separated mother and her children cling to their memories of past happiness and their yearning to be reunited. Brutality and beauty exist side by side in Mizoguchi's all-encompassing vision; the visual and aural strategies that he employs to transcend barriers of time and space yield moments of hair-raising emotional power. In Japanese with English subtitles. New 4K DCP digital restoration. (MR)