A Story from Chikamatsu

1954

Drama / History / Romance / Thriller

115
IMDb Rating 8 10 3

Synopsis


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March 30, 2021

Cast

720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
941.59 MB
1280*720
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
102 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.71 GB
1920×1080
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
102 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Teyss 10 / 10 / 10

The essence of cinema: each image conveys beauty and sense

Mizoguchi is acclaimed for all of his work, but mostly praised for the succession of masterpieces he directed at the end of his career. "Chikamatsu monogatari" is my favourite. Note the original title means "A Tale From Chikamatsu", after the classic Japanese author Chikamatsu Monzaemon who wrote the early 18th century play the movie is based on. It is a rare film where each image is finely crafted as a piece of art, yet without ostentation. "We must clean our eyes between each shot", Mizoguchi said: he perfectly applies this precept here. Each shot is meaningful, none feels superfluous. LOVE IN A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT The movie narrates a love story, yet with important social and psychological themes, as shows the regular alternation between the lovers' scenes and others. It depicts a harsh society where nobles rule ruthlessly, money reigns, people are dominated by conventions and adultery is punished by crucifixion. Traditions overrule everything including family bonds: Mohei's father rejects his son instead of helping him and denounces him (even if he frees him afterwards).O-Tama's uncle blames his niece for a petty lie.O-San's family blames her and finally gives her up.Women are the main victims: O-San's family decided to marry her to a much older, despicable man; he cheats on her but she has to go; O-Tama is abused but also has to go. It is a world of corruption and hypocrisy: Ishun condemns the adulterous lovers at the beginning but cheats on his wife.Isan pretends he is concerned by Ishun's misfortune but conspires for his downfall.Sukeimon betrays his master.There are political intrigues involving debts and law. This society seems doomed to carry on, as show recurring events and symbols: The output of the printing house is calendars issued every year.The chestnut merchant comes every year.There is a crucifixion at the beginning and another one at the end.When Ishun is eventually discharged, Isan who will take over looks just as vile (though more intelligent, perhaps). In this context, the love story is all the more compelling since O-San and Mohei fight against everything: law, reputation, conventions, family. The scenes between the lovers become increasingly intense. Eventually when they are condemned, they look happy because they can remain together even if they die. RELEVANT AESTHETICS Images express how their relationship liberates them. At the beginning they are suffocating in the printing house: it is filled with people, objects, beams, screens, shadows and even spider webs when Mohei is held captive. O-San has financial issues. Mohei is sick. When they run away, they are first obliged to take shelter in dark places and hide between huge barrels that seem to crush them. However, when and after they voice their love, they are in nature: despite the difficult situation, it feels as if we can breathe. A unique shot shows there is no going back: as Mohei runs down a hill followed by O-San, the camera pivots down on the two characters lost in the endless slope. It signifies in a simple, powerful way the intensity of their love but also how it will lead them to irreversible consequences. Unfortunately this liberation is short-lived: after Mohei's father refuses to help them, they are confined in a small dark hut. Then they are held inside again. The movie ends on a stunning camera movement, zooming high out of the lovers among the crowd. It is the only such movement in the film, making it even more gripping (somewhat reversed from the above-mentioned shot on the hill, although in the latter the camera pivots down without zooming): it magnificently summarises the love story surrounded by a hostile society. Mizoguchi's images are more than masterly: they are metaphysical. He shows a high respect for oppressed characters: they are framed close and the camera discreetly follows them, slightly going up as they come closer or going down as they kneel, which happens frequently. He also demonstrates decency: the shot becomes distant when the scene grows too personal, for instance when the lovers spend their first night together in the hut or in the example below. ONE FINE ILLUSTRATION These superb aesthetics show even in apparently simple scenes. Just one example: when O-San meets O-Tama in her room at the beginning of the movie. Shot 1: general view of the room. O-San enters, moves forward and kneels while O-Tama moves to the back. The camera adjusts to O-San as described above (respect for persons).Shot 2: closer image precisely when O-Tama moves forward. This subtle coordination of movement (image and character) makes the shot transition look completely natural. We get closer as the conversation becomes more intimate.Shot 3: even closer image, now from the opposite side of the room, precisely when O-Tama turns around. Again, the transition is fluid (matching movements) and the close image shows the increasing intimacy. The opposite shot illustrates the shock of O-Tama's revelation: Ishun is abusing her. Music rises at the end.Shot 4: same as shot 1 but we now see the two women from the back since they have turned around. The camera has resumed its initial, distant position out of consideration for the despaired characters. Both women are faceless: reduced to silence, denied a proper existence, anonymous victims. The music insures the transition with shot 3 and highlights their sorrow. Hence in just four seemingly simple shots (of which two are similar), Mizoguchi reveals the characters' emotions and condition in a perfectly fluid manner. The scene lasts a bit more than two minutes but embodies a whole story. One jewel amidst many others. A last note about the score. The aggressive music during the opening credits announces a movie without compromise: be ready for an aesthetical and emotional experience. During the film, the score delicately beautifies scenes (e.g. the discreet bells when Mohei is captive at the beginning). Eventually, the music becomes more aggressive (e.g. at O-San's family's house), and the movie ends on notes similar to the beginning: the inevitable tragedy has unravelled.

Reviewed by GyatsoLa 8 / 10 / 10

Crucified Lovers

This film was near the end of a wonderful sequence of films made near the end of his life by Mizoguchi. As Tony Raines says in the DVD extra for the Masters of Cinema edition this was a studio project that he was not wholly enthusiastic about. This shows a little in the film as it lacks some of the real flair and emotional power of some of his earlier great films. However, it shares with them his wonderful flowing camera and great cinematography. Its also a terrific story, based originally on a story from the great Japanese 17th Century playwright Monzaemon Chikamatsu (hence the Japanese name, A Tale from Chikamatsu). The screenplay is skillfully worked from the original story, which depends a lot of some pretty unlikely coincidences. The film has a great cast, although the lead actor (and major star at the time) Kazuo Hazegawa is a little old for the role of the shy lover. Kyoko Kagawa is great as the wife of a powerful merchant who is mistakenly accused of having an affair with her servant, but then falls in love with him as they both go on the run. As you'd expect from a Mizoguchi film, technically it is flawless, with lovely sets and some beautiful camera work. The Masters of Cinema version on DVD is a beautiful restoration. For Mizoguchi fans, this film is well worth getting, but for those who haven't seen many of his films it would be better to start with some of his earlier masterpieces.

Reviewed by gbill-74877 8 / 10 / 10

Nothing is more unpredictable than a person's fate

Set in 17th century Japan, and based on a 1715 play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon (hence the title, 'A Story From Chikamatsu'), this film starts with a rich scroll-maker (Eitarō Shindō) refusing to give his wife (Kyōko Kagawa) money. When she turns to one of his top apprentices (Kazuo Hasegawa), she sets in motion of a chain of events that ultimately have them fleeing together, because the apprentice, normally a virtuous man, intended to take the money from the scroll-maker and was caught. The story reveals emotion and desire that is both on the surface, such as the scroll-maker sexually harassing a young servant (Yōko Minamida), as well as that which is concealed. It shows us the randomness of events which may cause everything to suddenly change in one's life; as the wife puts it at one point, "Nothing is more unpredictable than a person's fate. In just one day, all of this has happened to us." If you've ever had your life flip suddenly because of love, you'll identify. The film also shows the all-too-common fate of women; the advice given to the young servant being harassed is to "Just take it. That's the duty of an employee." Adultery is also blamed first and foremost on the women ("It's frightening what women are capable of"), and it's ominous when a couple of adulterers are being led through the town to be crucified early on in the film. It's a solid film throughout – the cast is strong, the story is well told, and there are some gorgeous scenes, one of which is in a bamboo forest. I don't think it's going to blow you away, but it's a good one.

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