Gate of Hell (Criterion Collection)
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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.
If anything Hasegawa's performance as the samurai Moritoh is anything but flaccid. Indeed his style is rather overripe for many Western viewers but I believe the director Teinosuke Kinugasa wanted to contrast his behavior with that of the sad-faced Lord Wataru, wonderfully underplayed by Isao Yamagata (I am not inverting Japanese names in this review). Moritoh is all snarling fury and barely suppressed rage while Wataru is all reasonableness and dignity. The object of their devotion, Lady Kesa, is stunningly played by Machiko Kyo who gives perhaps her greatest performance or at least one of her greatest. Having seen this film something like eight times, I find that I am ever more riveted by the subtlety of her every gesture and expression. Indeed I watched this film a couple of days ago and I discovered an ambiguity in her reaction to the blandishments of Moritoh that I had never caught before. Multiple viewings of this film will similarly reward you.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
JIGOKUMON (GATE OF HELL / HELL GATE). Soap Opera Eye Candy.
Rating = ***
Director: Teinosuke Kinugasa
Producer: Masaichi Nagata
1953... Read more
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 13 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 14 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 16 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 19 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 19 months ago by Steve J