Customer Reviews

72
4.7 out of 5 stars
Ugetsu (The Criterion Collection)
Format: DVDChange
Price:$24.99 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on 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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
62 of 68 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 12, 2004
Format: VHS TapeVerified 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. Still, once I was engrossed in the story (and that didn't take long to happen), it either ceased to bother me or the quality improved and the movie progressed.
There is a timeless message in this movie that will reach out to just about all viewers. It has to do with identifying our values and appreciating what we have rather than what we desire. Sounds like a message we've heard before but I'm not sure it's been presented quite so well before or since.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2005
Format: DVD
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2006
Format: DVD
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.

--PolarisDiB
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
An earlier reviewer wanted to know if the title "Tales of the Pale Moon After the Rain" was a correct translation of Ugetsu Monogatari. It is. The title is taken from a 17th century collection of Japanese ghost stories of the same name, which contains this very story. It also refers to the shimmering illusions (fame and fortune) that the two protagonists are chasing before they come to their senses and return home. It also contains a subtle critique of Japan's madness during World War II. It is all these things and more in a beautifully filmed and acted masterpiece.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
To me Ugetsu is the most hypnotic and well-developed example of Mizoguchi's style - he was working at his peak here. His usual technique - "one scene, one cut" - gives the film a gliding, sinuous beauty. Every scene features slowly, continuously-changing movement, and the entire film is a tour-de-foce of subtle symbolism and gripping storytelling. One of my favorite qualities of Ugetsu is the genre-defying elements in the story - suspense, adventure, period-drama, supernatural horror - and how skillfully Mizoguchi's refined and unforgettable visual style ties it all together. Ugetsu in particular also showcases Mizoguchi's proto-feminism (by subtly underlining the hubris that men can often fall prey to, causing undue hardship to the women around them) in a subtle but mature fashion, and in this light the film could be viewed as a period-drama metaphor for shifting social values in postwar Japan. In any case this is a complex and gorgeous masterpiece that will haunt you long after viewing. This one is worth going out of your way to see.

-David Alston
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
Another hauntingly beautiful film from the man whom Kurosawa called "The Master". Two shallow, greedy peasants abandon their faithful wives to pursue riches and glory in war-torn 16th-century Japan. They eventually learn the error of their ways and return sadder yet wiser men, but not before the wives have suffered horribly for their husbands' follies. The eternal Mizoguchi theme: men behaving badly, women taking the brunt of it. There's also a definite WWII parable here, which is made explicit at the end, when the wives admonish their husbands to throw away their armor, give up their vain dreams of glory, and stay home, where they will find a deeper satisfaction in their humble positions as craftsmen and farmers. ("War twisted our ambitions.")

Ugetsu evokes a sense of the uncanny as few other films do (Carl Dreyer's Vampyr may be its only equal in this regard). The boundary between this world and the next has never seemed so permeable, and it's all done with the surest touch and the sparest cinematic means. Who the hell needs all that Hollywood CGI claptrap when you've got a genius like Mizoguchi directing?

I wish Criterion (or some other reputable company) would hurry up and put Mizoguchi's masterpieces on DVD in high-quality transfers. They can start with this one and Sansho Dayu and then move on to his lesser-known but equally ravishing films. All we have so far on DVD is one mediocre transfer of Mizoguchi's weakest film (The 47 Ronin).
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon November 20, 2005
Format: DVD
This is yet another superb addition to the Criterion Collection of the masterworks of Japanese cinema during the country's fruitful artistic period after WWII. Director Kenji Mizoguchi is not as well known as Akira Kurosawa, nor is he yet enjoying a renaissance like Yasujiro Ozu is now. However, he had a long, impressive career that stretched over four decades culminating in the 1950's with a handful of classic movies, the most famous being 1953's "Ugetsu monogatori (Tales of Moonlight and Rain)". Set in 16th-sentury Japan, it's a ghostly morality tale of two brothers, poor farmers who are both anxious to make their fortunes from the wartime activities surrounding them but via different means. The more focused Genjurô seeks his fortune through his homemade pottery which he sells in the bustling nearby town, and the younger Tobei's pipe dream is to become a samurai warrior.

After their village is pillaged, the brothers set off on a boat to the same town on a fog-laden lake leaving their suffering wives behind. There Genjurô meets a noblewoman named Lady Wakasa, who appreciates his artistry and falls in love with him. However, she turns out to be the ghost of a woman who never experienced love, and this realization puts Genjurô into a desperate situation since he decided to leave his devoted wife Miyagi to marry her, a decision that will turn on him with supreme irony at the end. On the other hand, Tobei achieves his desire to become a samurai warrior but through dubious means, at which point he discovers his wife Ohama has become a prostitute after being raped by warriors in his absence.

What Mizoguchi does remarkably well is interweave the two stories so that they reinforce and reflect upon each other seamlessly. He also avoids the pitfall of having the story pontificate upon the obvious morals of the story by not using archetypes but instead showing the realistic flaws in all the main characters. Without the use of special effects, the fantasy elements are not remotely contrived but rather emphasize the often nebulous difference between dreams versus reality, ambition versus happiness, and gratification versus fulfillment. The final spectral twist is a worthy precursor to "The Sixth Sense". Even more impressively, with the expert work of cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa, Mizoguchi provides meticulous, often stunning tableaux to set his scenes, and his narrative is suffused with deep humanity even when the characters perform deplorable acts.

The legendary Machiko Kyô plays Lady Wakasa with an appropriately otherworldly manner, at first remote but then romantically infatuated and gradually desperate to redefine her destiny. However, it's the quartet of actors who play the two couples that make the deepest impressions. Masayuki Mori portrays Genjurô with passionate fury, and Sakae Ozawa makes the foolhardy Tobei at once deceitful and sympathetic. Kinuyo Tanaka (Japan's first female director) provides the right amount of stoic gentility as Miyagi, and Mitsuko Mito makes Ohama's degradation hauntingly memorable.

As befitting a classic movie of this stature, Criterion has pulled out all the stops by providing a two-disc package. Film scholar Tony Rayns provides extremely informative commentary covering not only the details of the production but also the careers of Mizoguchi and the major contributors. He also shares intriguing insight on the purported rivalry between Mizoguchi and the younger, more successful Kurosawa. On the first disc, there are also trailers and brief interviews with director Masahiro Shinoda and two men who worked on the film, Miyagawa and assistant director Tokuzo Tanaka. The second disc offers a subjective, 2 ½-hour documentary, "Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director", directed by Kaneto Shindo, which provides more than enough information on the filmmaker's life and career without much critical appraisal. For anyone interested in Japanese cinema or simply a great ghost story beautifully told, this is a must.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Director Kenji Mizoguchi was a perfectionist. On the set he would often demand hundreds of retakes. Plus his takes were often long in duration, his signature style known as "flowing scroll"--one shot, one scene. His high standards and methods of precision are never more evident than in Ugetsu.
This story blends the supernatural world in with our earthly domain. There is a constant dreamlike, eerie atmosphere that is soothing and graceful. It begins to unfold in a poor rural 16th century village where the fear and apprehension of war is steadily looming.
Two men get caught up in dreams of wealth and foolish ambition. They have delusions of profiting from the effects of the war. Their misguided actions shape this haunting tale of love and loss. Life and death flow simultaneously side by side and our bound to keep you mesmerized to the screen.
This is commonly referred to as the most beautiful film ever made.
____________________________________________

Criterion has presented an excellent 2-disc edition with tons of special features.
Interviews, appreciations, documentaries. Plus a terrific 72 page book that includes the three short stories that influenced the making of this film.
2222 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Eerie, spellbinding, mystical...Try though I might, it is difficult to convey in words how magical and powerful this movie is. Ugetsu unravels slowly, but its final 30-40 minutes are the greatest in the history of cinema. I especially remember the main character in the market imagining his wife's reaction when he brings her the finest clothing (as poignant a moment as you will ever see); Machiko Kyo's ethereal beauty and grace; the two lovers at the hot spring, and the way this scene segues into the next; and of course, the incredibly powerful and eerie homecoming scene. I have seen Ugetsu many times, and I still get goosebumps everytime I watch the ending. Ugetsu is truly a lost masterpiece.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
The Life of Oharu (Criterion Collection)
The Life of Oharu (Criterion Collection) by Toshiro Mifune (DVD - 2013)
$18.19


Kuroneko (Criterion Collection)
Kuroneko (Criterion Collection) by Kichiemon Nakamura (DVD - 2011)
$19.75
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.