Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1953 - UGETSU or Tales of Midnight and Rain, a classic Japanese film with supernatural elements

An acknowledged classic Japanese film that let the world know that Japan actually had other talented filmmakers besides Akira Kurosawa. The director Kenjo Mizoguchi and probably more importantly the cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa created a moody brilliantly photographed film.

The story is a pretty simple one. Two Japanese peasants trying to achieve fame and fortune have a series of adventures before returning home.

Ugetsu is good to look at, the black and white photography and some of the traveling shots and lap dissolves are amazing. Unfortunately the story leaves a lot to be desired. Reduced to it's most basic elements Ugetsu is basically a version of The Bluebird, with the morale being "happiness is in your own back yard."

The real creative force on this film was Miyagawa a man who left his mark on a lot of important Japanese films, Rashomon, Sansho the Bailiff, Yojimbo, Tokyo Olympiad and Floating Weeds. Kazuo Miyagawa even after retirement continued to work, and was still shooting a film at the age of 91.

 94 minutes.

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