Ugetsu ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Lady Wakasa is a young, beautiful woman. Her beauty and appearance have great influence on those who lay eyes on her. Her beauty is a powerful tool that can be used to seduce those unfortunate enough to cross her path. But Lady Wakasa would have nothing to gain from bewitching peasants and commoners with her beauty, she comes from a wealthy and distinguished family of glorious times. Certainly she is not that evil to do it for sport; no, she can't be. She is young, and yet to feel the touch of love. She probably would've had that chance, a chance at a happy life, a chance that anyone deserves, had it not been savagely taken away by Nobunaga and his soldiers. All that's left for her to do is walk between the world of the living and that of the dead, in hopes of a second chance that will never come. Her presence is a tragic reminder of the past, a deep wound that knows no healing.

16th century Japan, the end of the Sengoku period. A time marked by chaos, a country scarred by war.

Genjuro and Tobei are good, humble, hard-working peasants. When the opportunity to make some good, hard-earned money arrives, they don't hesitate; and why should they? Their lives next to their wives Miyagi and Ohama are peaceful and quiet; but they are poor and they could be better. With all the death and despair war brings, why wouldn't it bring some silver coins too, for food and a kimono? As they soon learn on their own skin, profiting from war is a fool's errand; it leads to suffering, by various ways. Here, it's by way of greed, in various forms. They pay the price for their misguided actions, and the price is great enough to include their families.

1953, post World War II Japan. A time marked by unrest and despair, a country scarred by war.

If only ghosts were real, maybe that way we wouldn't be able to forget, and we would be able to learn from our mistakes. Ghosts are those horrors from the past that bleed into the present. But while the ghosts in Ugetsu are frightening, they're not threatening or harmful (they're the effect rather than the cause) because Mizoguchi follows with a glimmer of hope. Hope for a change. He uses the next best substitute for real ghosts powerful enough to remind us of our mistakes and to show us that there's still hope. And that substitute is cinema.

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