Ugetsu (The Criterion Collection)
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Ugetsu (The Criterion Collection) (1954)

Masayuki Mori , Machiko Ky˘ , Kenji Mizoguchi  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Masayuki Mori, Machiko Ky˘, Kinuyo Tanaka, Mitsuko Mito, Eitar˘ Ozawa
  • Directors: Kenji Mizoguchi
  • Writers: Akinari Ueda, Hisakazu Tsuji, Matsutar˘ Kawaguchi, Yoshikata Yoda
  • Producers: Masaichi Nagata
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BB14I0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,828 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ugetsu (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Disc One:
  • New, restored high-definition transfer
  • Audio commentary by renowned critic, filmmaker, and festival programmer Tony Rayns
  • Two Worlds Intertwined, a new, 14-minute appreciation of Ugetsu by director Masahiro Shinoda
  • Process and Production, a new, 20-minute video interview with Tozuko Tanaka, first assistant director on Ugetsu
  • Ten-minute video interview with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa, from 1992
  • Theatrical trailers
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • Disc Two
  • Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director (1972), a comprehensive, 150-minute documentary by filmmaker Kaneto Shindo, with new and improved subtitles
  • Plus
  • A 72-page book featuring film critic Phillip Lopate and three short stories that influenced Mizoguchi in making the film

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The great Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi's crowning achievement, set in sixteenth-century Japan, a period of bloody civil war, and focusing on an ambitious potter haunted by a beautiful ghost and a farmer who dreams of becoming a samurai. A classic com

Hailed by critics as one of the greatest films ever made, Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu is an undisputed masterpiece of Japanese cinema, revealing greater depths of meaning and emotion with each successive viewing. Mizoguchi's exquisite "gender tragedy" is set during Japan's violent 16th-century civil wars, a historical context well-suited to the director's compassionate perspective on the plight of women and the foibles of men. The story focuses on two brothers, Genjuro (Masayuki Mori) and Tobei (Sakae Ozawa), whose dreams of glory (one as a wealthy potter, the other a would-be samurai) cause them to leave their wives for the promise of success in Kyoto. Both are led astray by their blind ambitions, and their wives suffer tragic fates in their absence, as Ugetsu evolves into a masterful mixture of brutal wartime realism and haunting ghost story. The way Mizoguchi weaves these elements so seamlessly together is what makes Ugetsu (masterfully derived from short stories by Akinari Ueda and Guy de Maupassant) so challenging and yet deeply rewarding as a timeless work of art. Featuring flawless performances by some of Japan's greatest actors (including Machiko Kyo, from Kurosawa's Rashomon), Ugetsu is essential viewing for any serious lover of film. --Jeff Shannon

DVD features
The Criterion Collection's high standards of scholarly excellence are on full display in the two-disc set of Ugetsu, packaged in an elegant slipcase reflecting the tonal beauty of the film itself, which has been fully restored with a high-definition digital transfer. The well-prepared commentary by critic/filmmaker Tony Rayns combines the astute observations of a serious cineaste (emphasizing a keen appreciation for Mizoguchi's long-take style, compositional meaning, and literary inspirations) with informative biographical and historical detail. In the 14-minute featurette "Two Worlds Intertwined," director Masahiro Shinoda discusses how Mizoguchi's career and films have had a lasting impact on himself and Japanese culture in general. Interviews with Tokuzo Tanaka (first assistant director on Ugetsu) and cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa focus more specifically on anecdotal production history Mizoguchi's working methods, including the director's legendary perfectionism regarding painstaking details of props, costumes, and production design.

Disc 2 consists entirely of Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director, a 150-minute documentary from 1975. Though it occasionally gets bogged down in biographical minutia, the film provides a thoroughly comprehensive survey of Mizoguchi's career, including interviews with nearly all of Mizoguchi's primary collaborators. Director/interviewer Kaneto Shindo ultimately arrives at an emotionally devastating coup de grace when he informs the great actress Kinuyo Tanaka (star of The Life of Oharu and other Mizoguchi classics) that Mizoguchi had considered her "the love of his life." Tanaka's graceful response provides a moving appreciation of their artistic bond, which never evolved into romance. As we learn, the tragic irony of Mizoguchi's life is that he died in sadness and suffering, in 1956, just as he was entering a more hopeful and artistically revitalized period of middle age. After showing us all the locations that were important in Mizoguchi's life, the film closes with a blunt discovery of life's ethereal nature: The great director's final home was torn down and replaced with a gas station. The 72-page booklet that accompanies Ugestu contains a well-written appreciation of the film by critic Phillip Lopate. Also included are the three short stories that inspired Ugetsu, allowing readers to see how Mizoguchi and screenwriter Yoshikata Yoda masterfully combined elements of these unrelated stories to create one of the enduring classics of Japanese cinema. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I desire nothing but you with me." July 14, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
Profound in its sadness UGETSU is the heartbreaking story of two dirt poor villagers back in 16th century Japan. Both are married and have wives who love them just the way they are, but both men are blinded to their wives' love by envy. One to be rich the other to be a great warrior. They think that if they attain these goals they will find happiness and their wives will love them more - but that is already impossible.

Both men are granted their wishes but it doesn't bring them happiness. In fact it brings them and their wives more pain and grief then they ever knew existed. In the end they realize the happiness they had to begin with, but is it too late?

Perfect in every way, I consider this not only among the greatest films, but also one of the most important. There is a great lesson to learn here about appreciating the true happiness that might be right in front of you or already inside you.

Criterion: a Mizoguchi box set please.
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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What are the Important Things in Life? April 11, 2004
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Despite some disturbing scenes and issues, this is a beautiful movie. It tells the story of how the search for money and glory can destroy true happiness. What makes the story work is a lot of different things. First of all, the acting is very good. Watching in in subtitles (there wasn't any other option) helped with appreciating this facet of the movie. The scenery and costumes were pretty good as well. The directing was what was the most outstanding. I confess that I have a problem with most modern movies in that they show a heavy dependance on modern technology and declining moral standards. This enables modern films to utilize two avenues of showing more and more which leaves less and less to the imagination. The talent on display in "Ugetsu" shows how directing at its' best was a true art form; greater, often, than the acting itself. There are several scenes that come to mind. As soldiers rape and pillage, there comes a scene of a gang rape of a woman. Everything we see on film makes it clear in our minds as to what has taken place. Yet the only clothing we see removed is a pair of sandals. Another scene involves an erotic encounter in which, again we understand clearly yet are not invited to watch. There are other scenes worthy of mention but I don't want to give anything away. The way this movie moves along is another testament to its' director; Kenji Mizoguchi.
On the negative side, this movie is currently only available on VHS. I confess to being frustrated with all of my Beta movies and now all of my VHS movies seeming to head towards obsolescence. However, I have come to appreciate the quality as well as the other features of DVD's. Thus I found myself immediately focussing on the occassional snap, crackle, and pop of the VHS quality.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest movies in cinema history. October 17, 2005
The first time I saw this movie reminded me of my first time seeing The Passion of Joan of Arc, or Solyaris: like I had found something I had lost. Ugetsu is the story of two couples in 16th century Japan (a brother and sister and their respective spouses) and the misadventures that befall them when they set out from their village to sell pottery in the city. A hauntingly beautiful meditation on the private but universal struggle between love and greed, Ugetsu, which translates (it says here) as "Tales of a Pale and Mysterious Moon After the Rain," feels exactly like you'd expect film with that title to feel: it has the visual texture and depth of Dreyer's greatest films and the comfortable sadness of Ozu's masterpieces. Truly one of the most rewarding moviegoing experiences of my life.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales and songs March 1, 2006
The movie starts out pretty uncomfortably, two peasants in 16th century Japan who dream of richness and glory so blindly, they can't even hear the pretty straight-forward protests of their loving wives who try to convince them that their happiness is fine at home. When one, a pottery smith, makes a small bundle selling his wares, they decide to make a much larger batch together and become rich.

Forced out of their homes by an approaching war and uncertain where to go, they take their wares to a thriving market place, where the second peasant's ambition to be a samurai devides them and causes all four characters, the two peasants and their wives, to be separated, all fending for themselves amongst the war and various classes differently.

At this point the film reverses itself and instead of being a pretty skin-deep, tragic bud of greed, it blooms into a beautiful and haunting tale of obsession and illusion. The two main stories of the peasants and their wives are opposite only in their imaged realism, where one peasant falls completely under the curse of an enchanting ghost and the other lies and steals his way to fame, only both of them are eventually knocked down from their own hubris and forced to finally awaken to what their wives have said all along.

It's quite exquisite, this movie, with its long takes and its lack of the usual constructs that make up messages of obsession and greed. Once it gets beyond the small, uncomfortable, claustrophobic world of the peasant's home, it becomes audaciously challenging and mysterious, so that the same small home becomes amazingly wonderful and comforting. The very essense of the movie is breathed into the emotions of the audience in very subtle ways, making a very unforgettable cinematic experience.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic. Classic. Classic.
Published 8 days ago by Julie Merwin
3.0 out of 5 stars UGETSU MONOGATARI (UGETSU). Not Much Besides The Ghosts!

Film = three (3) stars; subtitles = four (4) stars; restoration = four (4) stars. Read more
Published 1 month ago by William F. Flanigan Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My favorite movie!
Published 2 months ago by T. Joseph
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Entertaining movie.
Published 4 months ago by Glenn
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
like no other !
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars watch it if you're very interested in Japanese culture
It's a nice film if you're very interested in Japanese culture... it is quite slow and overacted, but has beautiful scenes and shows a bit about Medieval Japan.
Published 7 months ago by loretta
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a great movie. The music is especially haunting
This move is a classic for a reason. It's a great movie. The music is especially haunting.
Published 7 months ago by A. Richmond
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the masterpiece it's made out to be
I've seen nearly every famous Japanese samurai era film and two of my all time favorite films, Seven Samurai and Harakiri are, in my opinion two of the greatest films ever made. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dan Harlow
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, Not Great
Ugetsu is considered by most reviewers to be one of the best movies ever made. I disagree. This movie just is not as good as the average movie made by Akira Kurosawa. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Tony Marquise Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation! One of the greatest films of all time
All elements of filmmaking: direction, acting, cinematography, music, scee setting and lighting) presented here are unsurpassed by any film in history! Read more
Published 10 months ago by Zlatko Zografski
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