Ugetsu

Ugetsu ★★★★

I don't love every Japanese film from the post-war period, and Mizoguchi is a figure I can find a bit impenetrable. Sansho the Balliff for instance clearly has an epic scope and some beautifully composed and subtle Buddhist imagery, but the static and distant aesthetic makes it very hard for me to attach. Streets of Shame is for me Mizoguchi's best, but it's also his most modern (his least Mizoguchi?) anticipating some of the thematic interests of the Japanese New Wave 

This one is a joy however. A perfect ghost story. The supernatural sequences in the ghost's domain are fascinating. Mizoguchi creates a filmic space in those scenes that is so permeable and diffuse, it's really amazing stuff, self-consciously evoking a netherworld aesthetic. It makes the crash back to Mizoguchi realism all the more effective. Great stuff.

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