Eclipse Series 13: Kenji Mizoguchi's Fallen Women (Osaka Elegy / Sisters of the Gion / Women of the Night / Street of Shame) (The Criterion Collection)
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In 1948's Women of the Night, the filmmaker returns to Osaka to focus on Fusako (Kinuyo Tanaka), a poverty-stricken widow who rebuilds her life after the war, then loses it all when her boss and sister betray her. Though Natsuko (Sanae Takasugi) attempts to make it up to Fusako, the situation only worsens once rape, syphilis, and pregnancy enter the picture (the liner notes indicate that Mizoguchi later dismissed this tough-minded movie as "barbarous"). His final film, 1956s Street of Shame, centers on a Yoshiwara brothel that operates like any other retail establishment. The most painful strand concerns an aging courtesan facing an Oharu-like future. Overall, these women look like survivors rather than victims, but Mizoguchi leaves no doubt regarding his frustration with a social order that would create and punish such steely characters. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Top Customer Reviews
Here's the damage: 18 mins. missing from OSAKA ELEGY, 26 mins. from SISTERS OF THE GION, and 31 mins. from WOMEN OF THE NIGHT. Of the films collected here, only STREET OF SHAME is offered in its entirety. So, as I look at the films below, I have to view them as I do the Venus de Milo--parts are missing, yes, but the greatness of the art still shows.
OSAKA ELEGY (1936) Isuzu Yamada stars in this and in SISTERS OF THE GION. She had recently come out as a lesbian and was in a great deal of family turmoil. Mizoguchi harnessed that defiance in the two films; had it not seeped in, the films would have been relatively simple stories about the victimization of women. Instead, in OSAKA ELEGY, Yamada (as Ayako) is a skilled passive-aggressor in her own right. The men surrounding her are weak. She manipulates situations to her advantage, but all in the interest in restoring her family's fortunes. Inevitably, she is rejected by the loved ones she has saved from ruin, and is left to an uncertain future. In style, the film is naturalistic, yet full of eloquent tracking shots. If Truffaut was right that every tracking shot is a moral judgment, then there is real shock in the final two shots, which cut from a tracking shot alongside the homeless Ayako to a frontal shot in which she purposefully charges the camera, looking directly into the lens.Read more ›
Eclipse Series 13 explores four of his most powerful films on this subject and takes a look at how Japan was slowly changing its culture to meet the needs of these women. The set is dived into prewar and postwar films.
Osaka Elegy and Sisters of the Gion both from 1936 are both exceptional films. Osaka Elegy explores a woman's fall from grace as she resorts to a compromising relationship in order to alleviate her family's economic woes. Sisters of the Gion tells the story of two sisters, both geisha and how their outlook on their profession influences how they see tthe world.
The post war Women of the Night(1948) explores the common prostitute in a neorealist type production with non professional actors and rough camara wor. Street of Shame (1956) which would be Mizoguchi's last film takes am almost clinical approach to the daily life of five women working in the Dreamland brothel at a time when the government was tring to outlaw their profession.
The set brings together four films that would not ordinarily been available. For this they are to be commended. The editions look as good as this source material is likey to look and sound. There is some question about the running times of these films being altered but I'm not sure on that point since the films do appear to be complete. As is the case with the Eclipse series no extra features except liner notes are provided.
Well worth the time spent viewing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Kansai ben is beautifully authentic! Not like the movies nowadays.Published 4 months ago by Shirakaba Sandai
OSAKA ELEGY: Dark, Blurry, And With A Simplistic Plot
Film = just barely three (3) stars; restoration = just barely two (2) stars. Read more
these are COMPLETE REPEAT COMPLETE films! contrary to the uninformed 2008 review by wm shriver above, there is NO time missing from any of these films. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Zangiku
I took a chance in buying this set and I would have to say I was not disappointed. All four of the films were well done. Read morePublished on March 12, 2014 by Jim Sitnik
I agree with the other reviews, that this is an amazing four film collection. This missing segments are short and not really important overall. Read morePublished on April 3, 2012 by Christopher Barrett
Henji Mizoguchi's work is a study of how Japan treated women, and how they treated themselves, over a period of many years. Read morePublished on March 3, 2011 by Michael Valdivielso
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