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Gate of Hell (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Filmed in beautiful & vibrant color (probably one of the first color films from Japan), the cinematography in "Gate of Hell" is exquisite. The story is by no means dated, though it does become somewhat predictable. Still, it is both compelling and engaging and the acting is superb, especially Machiko Kyô. Memorable scenes in the film include the confusion at the royal palace, Laky Kesa hiding from traitorous soldiers, Moritoh meeting Lady Kesa and her aunt after the revolt, Moritoh given the choice of his heart's desire, the horse races, Moritoh at the home of Lady Kesa's aunt, and the ending scenes. The makeup used on Moritoh could have been better.Read more ›
Obviously, I prefer the masterpieces of Kurosawa or Kobayashi or Mizoguchi. This is a very good film rather than a great one. Nevertheless...this movie grows on you. Other reviewers discuss the basic plot: Moritoh, a warrior who quashes a revolt, is to be rewarded for his bravery by the emperor's regent. He is asked to choose any gift from the emperor. During the revolt, he encounters the beautiful Lady Kesa, who is kind to him. Like a fool, he demands that he be given Lady Kesa as a wife, even though she is already married to a lord of higher class. Everyone asks him to desist.. but pride, madness, and desire prevent him from doing so. He vows to destroy anyone who stands in his path and goes so far as to kidnap his prize. On the other side of the wall, rather than defend his wife from such outrageous conduct, Lady Kesa's intellectual husband takes no violent action to protect her.
The scenes are enhanced by the exaggerated dramatic, strong movements of Moritoh against the delicate movements of Kesa. Notwithstanding, she is just as strong a character as he is. I give this movie 5 stars because I felt this was Machiko Kyo's best performance. Every gesture of hers can be studied for meaning.
The ending of the film grabs me so much because it is pregnant with so much significance. Don't rush to judgment - think about it. There are secrets to the ending.
Postcript: The Blu-Ray quality is marvelous - don't even think about seeing the movie in any other format. I also love the glorious poster artwork on the cover of this Criterion Edition.
The 1950s in Japan were a great time for costume dramas. Witness Gate of Hell (Jigokumon), Teinosuke Kinugasa's multi-Western-award-winning (Oscar: Best Foreign Film and Best Costume Design, New York Film Critics' Circle: Best Foreign Film, BAFTA Best Film, Cannes Grand Prize) flick about obsessive love and its inevitable end.
Moritoh (Genji Monogatari's Kazuo Hasegawa) helps put down a revolt, and is rewarded with anything he desires. What he desires is the beautiful Kesa (Ugikusa's Machiko Kyo), but he finds out that Kesa is already married to another samurai, Wataru (Isao Yamagata of The Seven Samurai). This knowledge doesn't faze Moritoh in the least; he sets about trying to win Kesa's love by proving himself a better warrior than her husband.
It is a good film, but it could have been a better one. Midnight Eye's summary of the film says that "Kinugasa himself was fully aware of his picture's dramatic weaknesses, and blamed intervention from his producer, an under-developed script and a rushed working schedule due to a release date fixed in advance. Whilst impressive in its performances, and the ambition and scale of its production, with a little more attention to plotting, one gets the feeling that it could have been a truly great film." This is quite the case. While it is undeniably a stunning picture, even by today's standards-- the rather primitive film stock (this was Japan's first color film) does nothing to mask the intricacy of the set design, the brilliant, almost expressionist color scheme, or Kinugasa's excellent eye when it comes to action scenes-- the plot is presented in almost stop-motion fashion, with one excellently-acted scene after another, but nothing to tie them together.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
No one says this was meant to be a comedy, but I laughed through most of it. If it's cheap, and if you can stand old movies in general, it's hilarious. Read morePublished 7 months ago by T. Cue.
I LOVED IT WHEN I FIRST SAW IT IN THE THEATRE MANY YEARS AGO. WANTED TO HAVE IT FOR THE RECORD. CRITERION DOES SUCH A BEAUTIFUL JOB OF RESTORING FILMS AND THIS IS A CLASSIC.Published 8 months ago by Eleanor Takahashi iNSKIP
Gate of Hell (1953) takes place in a feudal Japan, and it is a story about a certain samurai who falls in love with a wife of another samurai all of which are from the same clan. Read morePublished 10 months ago by L
I bought this movie as a Christmas present for someone who enjoys gorgeous costuming. However, I expected the story itself to be a bit dull or predictable - and that we might zone... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Corinne O'Kelly
This is one of the most beautiful movies ever made. The story is heartbreaking and disturbing. But the acting is great. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Steve J
Great colors, good story. The ending (the very, very tip ending just before the curtain falls) was a bit flat, though. After all that happened, I thought "Mmm.... Read morePublished 14 months ago by GJW
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