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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 18 reviews
on January 23, 2016
Life of Oharu is probably the most famous of Kenzi Mizoguchi's series of what I call "women suffer" films. It starred his muse Kinuyo Tanaka as a woman whose life is an endless series of degradations -- she falls in love with a nobelman (Toshuro Mifune) who is executed for their illicit romance. Then she becomes a surrogate mother for another nobelman, but is cast aside as soon as she bears a son for him. She tries becoming a courtesan, a servant, and the wife of a fanmaker, a nun, and finally, a common streetwalker. There is no light in her life, no redemption -- Oharu's life is one long nightmare, which Mizoguchi films in his typical relentless style, with extremely long takes.

At a certain point I simply checked out. This film isn't like Sansho the Bailiff or Ugetsu, in which there's a glimmer of hope for humanity. It also doesn't have the grittiness of the four films included in Criterion's Fallen Women dvd set -- those films are short, and offer a candid look at life of geishas and prostitutes in a direct, unsentimental, compelling way. Life of Oharu has an artiness (it's set in medieval times) but its unending grimness becomes sadistic -- at times you wonder if Mizoguchi actually enjoys watching the degradations of Oharu.

Tanaka's performance however is amazing -- her face mostly a stoic mask, but at times you see her anger and even spitefulness, like when she becomes the household servant of a wife who is secretly bald. She makes the film worth watching, but overall I think Sansho the Bailiff and Ugetsu are finer examples of Mizoguchi's art.
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on August 2, 2016
Criterion Collection is a great source for quality classics. This is the story of a woman who goes through a series of misfortunes. While Toshiro Mifune is listed as the star, he didn't have a big role, so don't look for his usual samurai antics or big fight scenes.
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on January 25, 2016
Beautiful and tragic, this movie still holds a contemporary message about female identity in the past and present.
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on November 23, 2013
Those with knowledge and appreciation of Japanese history and the place in society of Japanese women will be touched by this masterful film. It traces the descent of a high born woman who has just enough courage to resist total submission to the system; an affair with a lower ranking samurai marks her decline; further misadventures and defiance of harsh authority ends with her choice of life as a prostitute. A beautiful and subtle condemnation of the society of those times.
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on January 30, 2014
This is an interesting movie that explores the women's side of feudal Japanese culture. Women are actual objects to be sold or traded. Even her father offers her no real sympathy. She is a tool to use for his purposes. Every time Oharu seems to find a promise of a better life, that promise is struck down by some disaster or cultural impediment. Oharu falls from nobility. Imagine falling from a lower class. The prospects are poor. The movie is well made and the DVD is high quality. It is worth a watch if you are interested in the culture. No on-screen sword swinging, but there is an off-screen beheading. The violence in this movie makes a point and is not overdone.
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on August 10, 2013
From the moment she turns on her suitor only to relent you can see that this is a performace worth watching. An informed study of the life of a woman in a certain age is certainly worth watching. Beautifully photographed and engauging this is worth watching.
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on April 24, 2016
Brand new
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on December 3, 2014
excellent
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on November 24, 2015
MY DAD IS GOING TO LOVE THIS.
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on April 23, 2014
a very good story and well filmed and enjoyable to watched - glad was put on blu ray to watch
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