Ugetsu

Ugetsu ★★★★½

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

This review may contain spoilers.

Having had the opportunity to watch this great Japanese classic theatrically, I sat in the best seat of the almost-empty room and prepared myself for what was coming next. Right from when the lights went off and the beautifully-crafted credits started rolling on the screen, I was mesmerized. And as the film unfolds, revealing its contrast between the beautiful springtime of Lake Biwa in the Province of Omi and the Civil Wars that occurred at the same time, that sense of enchantment and beauty persisted.

The two neighbor families that live around this lake are friends, while Genjurô and Tobei, the men of each family, work together making clay potteries. They plan to go to the city, sell many of their pieces and enrich, taking their wives along with them. This dream proves difficult, though, when an army (of the cruel Shibata) approaches their village.

After a brief encounter with a dying man, they find it safer for the wives to go back to the village, and so one of them returns. The two end up in the big city, only accompanied by one of the wives, and sell almost every piece. Soon even the princess of the town goes to buy some pottery. When this happens, Tobei, a fool man who dreams of becoming a samurai, leaves his wife behind to buy a samurai outfit and seek fame. She goes after him and Genjurô, now alone, starts to fall in love with the princess.

This story then develops into layers of consequences, redemption, fantasy, and the horrors of war, lying there the greatness of all the film. For its phantasmagoric music, shadowy photography and very believable acting are so impressive and mastered by Mizoguchi that its epicness and timelessness are revealed.