Ugetsu ★★★★★

One of Kenji Mizoguchi's last films (he made seven more from 1953-1956), Ugetsu is an attentively created work of art. Blending a traditional Japanese fable with contemporary filmmaking technique, Mizoguchi is able to craft an enduring tale of moralistic integrity. Mizoguchi's adept handling of the more supernatural elements invoke a sense of wonder instead of bewilderment, and perfectly portray the overarching spirituality of 16th century Japan.

Diligent farmers Genjûrô (Masayuki Mori) and Tôbee (Eitarô Ozawa) have dreams much larger than their current circumstances, and decide to use the impending civil war to their advantage. Genjûrô's hobby, pottery, pays off when he is able to make more money than he or his conscientious wife, Miyagi (Kinuyo Tanaka), have ever seen. Enlisting the help of Tôbee and his wife, Ohama (Mitsuko Mito), Genjûrô and his wife put everything they have into one large batch of pottery. When the army arrives in their village ahead of schedule, they must flee into the mountains – but not before they gather up the freshly-baked pottery. Going ahead with their plans, Genjûrô leaves his wife and son, and sets off across a lake with Tôbee and Ohama to strike it rich in a bigger town.