Ugetsu ★★★★

Much has been said about Ugetsu's ghostly atmosphere and its supernatural elements, but there's a lot more than that going on here. Mizoguchi draws on folklore with heavy mysticism, but only to paint a detailed portrait of then modern Japan, fuelled by the post-war anxieties of the 1950s. In it are the sobering ethics of war when observed in a domestic setting. Men chase ambitions while their avarice brings ruin to their families. Men are foolish creatures only capable of learning after they suffer misfortunes brought about by their own ignorance. The price for every success of man is paid by women, insight is only gained after sight of what is important is lost. A country ravaged by war; a people changed by it. Mizoguchi's control over light and sound releases a visually arresting narrative that shifts between drama and horror effortlessly. Ugetsu is a mystery whose quality doesn't necessarily reside in the weight of the mystery itself, but in its evolution from being cruel, then emotional, and finally incredibly profound.


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