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Kenji Mizoguchi

Kenji Mizoguchi

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Kenji Mizoguchi was a Japanese
Japanese people
The are an ethnic group originating in the Japanese archipelago and are the predominant ethnic group of Japan. Worldwide, approximately 130 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 127 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live in other countries...

 film director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

 and screenwriter
Screenwriter
Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplays from which mass media such as films, television programs, Comics or video games are based.-Profession:...

. His film Ugetsu
Ugetsu
Ugetsu is a 1953 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Set in 16th century Japan, it stars Masayuki Mori and Machiko Kyō, and is inspired by short stories by Ueda Akinari and Guy de Maupassant...

(1953) won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival
Venice Film Festival
The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. Founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi in 1932 as the "Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica", the festival has since taken place every year in late August or early September on the island of the...

, and appeared in the Sight & Sound
Sight & Sound
Sight & Sound is a British monthly film magazine published by the British Film Institute .Sight & Sound was first published in 1932 and in 1934 management of the magazine was handed to the nascent BFI, which still publishes the magazine today...

Critics' Top Ten Poll in 1962 and 1972. Mizoguchi is renowned for his mastery of the long take
Long take
A long take is an uninterrupted shot in a film which lasts much longer than the conventional editing pace either of the film itself or of films in general, usually lasting several minutes. It can be used for dramatic and narrative effect if done properly, and in moving shots is often accomplished...

 and mise-en-scène. According to author Mark Le Fanu, "His films have an extraordinary force and purity. They shake and move the viewer by the power, refinement and compassion with which they confront human suffering."

Early years


Mizoguchi was born in Hongo
Hongo
Hongō is a district of Tokyo located in Bunkyō-ku, due north of the Tokyo Imperial Palace and west of Ueno. Hongō was a ward of the former city of Tokyo until 1947, when it merged with another ward, Koishikawa, to form the modern Bunkyō....

, Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

, one of three children. His father was a roofing carpenter. The family was modestly middle-class until his father tried to make a living selling raincoats to soldiers during the Russo-Japanese war
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

. The war ended too quickly for the investment to succeed; his family circumstances turned abject and they had to give his older sister 'up for adoption' and moved from Hongo
Hongo
Hongō is a district of Tokyo located in Bunkyō-ku, due north of the Tokyo Imperial Palace and west of Ueno. Hongō was a ward of the former city of Tokyo until 1947, when it merged with another ward, Koishikawa, to form the modern Bunkyō....

 to Asakusa
Asakusa
is a district in Taitō, Tokyo, Japan, most famous for the Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. There are several other temples in Asakusa, as well as various festivals.- History :...

, near to the theatre and brothel
Brothel
Brothels are business establishments where patrons can engage in sexual activities with prostitutes. Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of prostitution, and bawdy house...

 quarter. In effect his sister Susomo, or Suzu, was sold into geisha
Geisha
, Geiko or Geigi are traditional, female Japanese entertainers whose skills include performing various Japanese arts such as classical music and dance.-Terms:...

dom - an event which profoundly affected Mizoguchi's outlook on life. Between this and his father's brutal treatment of his mother and sister, he maintained a fierce resistance against his father throughout his life.

In 1911 the Mizoguchi parents, too poor to continue paying for their sons primary school training, sent him to stay with an uncle in Morioka, (northern Japan) for a year - a period that saw the onset of crippling rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks synovial joints. The process produces an inflammatory response of the synovium secondary to hyperplasia of synovial cells, excess synovial fluid, and the development...

 that was to afflict him during adolescence and leave him with a lop-sided walking gait for the rest of his life. The year 1912, back with his parents, was spent almost entirely in bed. In 1913 Mizoguchi's sister Suzu secured him work as an apprentice, designing patterns for kimono
Kimono
The is a Japanese traditional garment worn by men, women and children. The word "kimono", which literally means a "thing to wear" , has come to denote these full-length robes...

s and yukata
Yukata
A is a Japanese garment, a casual summer kimono usually made of cotton. People wearing yukata are a common sight in Japan at fireworks displays, bon-odori festivals, and other summer events. The yukata is also frequently worn after bathing at traditional Japanese inns...

s. In 1915 his mother died, and Suzu brought her younger brothers into her own house and looked after them. In 1916 he enrolled for a course at the Aoibashi Yoga Kenkyuko art school in Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

, which taught Western painting techniques. At this time too he pursued a new interest in opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

, particularly at the Royal Theatre at Akasaka
Akasaka, Tokyo
is a residential and commercial district of Minato, Tokyo, located west of the government center in Nagatachō and north of the Roppongi nightlife district....

 where he began, in due course, to help the set decorators.
In 1917 his sister again helped him to find work, this time a post on the Yuishin Nippo newspaper in Kobe
Kobe
, pronounced , is the fifth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, approximately west of Osaka...

, as a designer of advertising. The writer Tadao Sato has pointed out a coincidence between Mizoguchi's life in his early years and the plots of shimpa dramas. Such works characteristically documented the sacrifices made by geishas on behalf of the young men they were involved with. Though Suzu was his sister and not a lover, "the subject of women's suffering is fundamental in all his work; while the sacrifice a sister makes for a brother - makes a key showing in a number of his films - Sansho Dayu for example." After less than a year in Kobe however he returned, 'to the bohemian delights of Tokyo.' Mizoguchi entered the Tokyo film industry as an actor
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

 in 1920; three years later he would become a full-fledged director, at the Nikkatsu studio, directing Ai-ni yomigaeru hi (The Resurrection of Love), his first movie, during a workers' strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

.

Film career


Mizoguchi's early works had been exploratory, mainly genre works, remakes of German Expressionism
German Expressionism
German Expressionism refers to a number of related creative movements beginning in Germany before the First World War that reached a peak in Berlin, during the 1920s...

 and adaptions of Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into American drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish...

 and Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

. In these early years Mizoguchi worked quickly, sometimes churning out a film in weeks. These would account for over fifty films from the 1920s and 1930s, the majority of which are now lost.

After the Great Kantō earthquake on September 1, 1923, Mizoguchi moved to Nikkatsu’s Kyoto
Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

 studios and was working there until a scandal caused him to be temporarily suspended: Yuriko Ichijo, a call girl whom he was co-habiting with, attacked and wounded Mizoguchi's back with a razor-blade.

Several of Mizoguchi's later films were keikō-eiga or "tendency film
Tendency film
A is a name given to the socially conscious, left-leaning films produced in Japan during the 1920s and 1930s. These were in general produced by the commercial studios, in contrast to the politically radical independent films of the Proletarian Film League of Japan...

s," in which Mizoguchi first explored his socialist tendencies and moulded his famous signature preoccupations. Later in his life Mizoguchi maintained that his career as a serious director did not begin until Sisters of the Gion
Sisters of the Gion
is a 1936 black and white Japanese film drama directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.The film is based on the novel Yama by Aleksandr Kuprin....

and Naniwa Elegy
Osaka Elegy
is a 1936 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Mizoguchi considered the film his first serious effort as a director, and it was also his first commercial and critical success in Japan...

, both dating from 1936.

In his middle films, Mizoguchi began to be hailed as a director of 'new realism': social documents of a Japan that was making its transition from feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 into modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

. The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums
, 1939) is a Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.The film is regarded as one of Mizoguchi's greatest pre-war achievements. Especially notable is Mizoguchi's now mature mise-en-scène compositions and extreme long takes.-Synopsis:...

(1939) won a prize with the Education Department; like the two abovementioned films, it explores the deprecatory role of women in an unfairly male-centered society. During this time, Mizoguchi also developed his signature "one-scene-one-shot" approach to cinema. The meticulousness and authenticity of his set designer Hiroshi Mizutani would contribute to Mizoguchi's frequent use of wide-angled lensing.

During the war, Mizoguchi was forced to make compromises for the military government as propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

; the most famous is a retelling of the Samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 bushido
Bushido
, meaning "Way of the Warrior-Knight", is a Japanese word which is used to describe a uniquely Japanese code of conduct and a way of the samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. It originates from the samurai moral code and stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and...

 classic The 47 Ronin
The 47 Ronin
is a 1941/1942 black-and-white two-part jidaigeki Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.The first part was originally released in Japan just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The film was directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, and adapted from the play by Seika Mayama...

(1941), an epic jidai geki ("historical drama"). http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/22/mizoguchi.html

Notable directors who have admired his work include Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa
was a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, Kurosawa directed 30 filmsIn 1946, Kurosawa co-directed, with Hideo Sekigawa and Kajiro Yamamoto, the feature Those Who Make Tomorrow ;...

, Orson Welles
Orson Welles
George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

, Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard is a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic. He is often identified with the 1960s French film movement, French Nouvelle Vague, or "New Wave"....

, Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky was a Soviet and Russian filmmaker, writer, film editor, film theorist, theatre and opera director, widely regarded as one of the finest filmmakers of the 20th century....

, Kaneto Shindō
Kaneto Shindo
, Hiroshima, Japan) is a Japanese film director and screenwriter. His best known films include Children of Hiroshima, The Naked Island, Onibaba, Kuroneko and A Last Note.Shindō has often made films dealing with Hiroshima or the atomic bomb...

 and Jacques Rivette
Jacques Rivette
Jacques Rivette is a French film director. His most well known films include Celine and Julie Go Boating, La Belle Noiseuse and the cult film Out 1....

.

He once served as president of the Directors Guild of Japan
Directors Guild of Japan
The is a trade union created to represent the interests of film directors in the film industry in Japan. It was founded in 1936, with Minoru Murata serving as the first president, and has continued to this day apart from a period between 1943 and 1949 when it was disbanded at first on orders from...

.

Post-war recognition


Although regarded, like his contemporary Yasujirō Ozu
Yasujiro Ozu
was a prominent Japanese film director and script writer. He is known for his distinctive technical style, developed during the silent era. Marriage and family, especially the relationships between the generations, are among the most persistent themes in his body of work...

, as outdated and old-fashioned by Japanese audience immediately after the war, Mizoguchi was rediscovered, particularly by Cahiers du cinéma
Cahiers du cinéma
Cahiers du Cinéma is an influential French film magazine founded in 1951 by André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Joseph-Marie Lo Duca. It developed from the earlier magazine Revue du Cinéma involving members of two Paris film clubs — Objectif 49 and...

critics like Jacques Rivette
Jacques Rivette
Jacques Rivette is a French film director. His most well known films include Celine and Julie Go Boating, La Belle Noiseuse and the cult film Out 1....

, in the West. After a phase inspired by Japanese women's suffrage
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

, which produced radical films like Victory of the Women (1946) and My Love Has Been Burning (1949), Mizoguchi took a turn to the jidai-geki — or period drama, re-made from stories from Japanese folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 or period history — together with long-time screenwriter and collaborator Yoshikata Yoda
Yoshikata Yoda
was a Japanese screenwriter. He wrote for over 130 films between 1931 and 1989. He is most famous for his work with Kenji Mizoguchi...

. It was to be his most celebrated series of works, including The Life of Oharu
The Life of Oharu
is a 1952 historical fiction black-and-white film by director Kenji Mizoguchi starring Kinuyo Tanaka as Oharu, a one-time concubine of a daimyō who struggles to escape the stigma of having been sold into prostitution by her father...

(1952), which won him international recognition and which he considered his best film, and Ugetsu
Ugetsu
Ugetsu is a 1953 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Set in 16th century Japan, it stars Masayuki Mori and Machiko Kyō, and is inspired by short stories by Ueda Akinari and Guy de Maupassant...

(1953), which won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival
Venice Film Festival
The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. Founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi in 1932 as the "Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica", the festival has since taken place every year in late August or early September on the island of the...

. Sansho the Bailiff
Sansho the Bailiff
-External links:* at the Japanese Movie Database* * and QuickTime trailer* essay by Mark Le Fanu...

(1954) takes a premise from feudal Japan (and the short story by Mori Ōgai
Mori Ogai
was a Japanese physician, translator, novelist and poet. is considered his major work.- Early life :Mori was born as Mori Rintarō in Tsuwano, Iwami province . His family were hereditary physicians to the daimyō of the Tsuwano Domain...

) and reworks it as a Confucian morality tale. Of his nearly 100 films, only two — Tales of the Taira Clan
Tales of the Taira Clan
is a 1955 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It is based on the Eiji Yoshikawa historical novel Shin Heike Monogatari. It is one of his two films in color, the other being Princess Yang Kwei-Fei of the same year.- Cast :...

(1955) and Princess Yang Kwei-Fei
Princess Yang Kwei-Fei
is a 1955 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It was a co-production between Daiei Studios and Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers Studio. It is one of Mizoguchi's two color films, the other being Tales of the Taira Clan, made the same year....

(1955) — were made in colour.

Mizoguchi died in Kyoto
Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

 of leukemia
Leukemia
Leukemia or leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called "blasts". Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases...

 at the age of 58, by which time he had become recognized as one of the three masters of Japanese cinema, together with Yasujirō Ozu
Yasujiro Ozu
was a prominent Japanese film director and script writer. He is known for his distinctive technical style, developed during the silent era. Marriage and family, especially the relationships between the generations, are among the most persistent themes in his body of work...

 and Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa
was a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, Kurosawa directed 30 filmsIn 1946, Kurosawa co-directed, with Hideo Sekigawa and Kajiro Yamamoto, the feature Those Who Make Tomorrow ;...

. At the time of his death, Mizoguchi was working on a film called Osaka Story. In all he made (according to his memory) about 75 films, although most of his early ones were lost. In 1975, Kaneto Shindō
Kaneto Shindo
, Hiroshima, Japan) is a Japanese film director and screenwriter. His best known films include Children of Hiroshima, The Naked Island, Onibaba, Kuroneko and A Last Note.Shindō has often made films dealing with Hiroshima or the atomic bomb...

 filmed a documentary about Mizoguchi, Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director
Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director
Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director is a 1975 Japanese documentary film on the life and works of director Kenji Mizoguchi, directed by Kaneto Shindō . It runs 150 minutes and can be found on the second disc of the Region 1 Criterion Collection release of Ugetsu ....

.

Themes and aesthetics


Mizoguchi's films are well known for their championing of women. He has been called the first major feminist director, though modern audiences may find that his themes do not line up with the modern concept of feminism
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

. Typically he revealed women's position in the Japanese society as downtrodden and oppressed, and showed that they may be capable of greater nobility between the sexes. He made many films on the plight of the geisha, but his protagonists could derive from anywhere: prostitutes, workers, street activists, housewives, and feudal princesses.

Mizoguchi's films have an aesthetic that is reminiscent of Japanese art
Japanese art
Japanese art covers a wide range of art styles and media, including ancient pottery, sculpture in wood and bronze, ink painting on silk and paper and more recently manga, cartoon, along with a myriad of other types of works of art...

. He favoured long takes and rich, painterly mise-en-scene, seldom with the Western-favoured device of the close-up
Close-up
In filmmaking, television production, still photography and the comic strip medium a close-up tightly frames a person or an object. Close-ups are one of the standard shots used regularly with medium shots and long shots . Close-ups display the most detail, but they do not include the broader scene...

; a typical shot can take a few minutes, and places emphasis on lighting and placement — much like the works of Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg — born Jonas Sternberg — was an Austrian-American film director. He is particularly noted for his distinctive mise en scène, use of lighting and soft lens, and seven-film collaboration with actress Marlene Dietrich.-Youth:Von Sternberg was born Jonas Sternberg to a Jewish...

. He balances formalized beauty with emotional involvement with his main characters; in his finest works the emotionalism can be extraordinarily moving.

Mizoguchi's obsession with rehearsals was infamous, and could become a nightmare for his actresses. His preference for a long take meant there was little room for errors: there are stories of him rehearsing one shot nearly a hundred times. Kinuyo Tanaka
Kinuyo Tanaka
was a Japanese actress and director.Tanaka was born in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. She became a leading actress at an early age, appearing in Yasujirō Ozu's I Graduated, But... in 1929...

, Mizoguchi's regular actress, once recounted that Mizoguchi asked her to read a whole library in preparation for a role.

Mizoguchi himself cited Marcel L'Herbier
Marcel L'Herbier
Marcel L'Herbier, Légion d'honneur, was a French film-maker, who achieved prominence as an avant-garde theorist and imaginative practitioner with a series of silent films in the 1920s. His career as a director continued until the 1950s and he made more than 40 feature films in total...

, Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg — born Jonas Sternberg — was an Austrian-American film director. He is particularly noted for his distinctive mise en scène, use of lighting and soft lens, and seven-film collaboration with actress Marlene Dietrich.-Youth:Von Sternberg was born Jonas Sternberg to a Jewish...

, William Wyler
William Wyler
William Wyler was a leading American motion picture director, producer, and screenwriter.Notable works included Ben-Hur , The Best Years of Our Lives , and Mrs. Miniver , all of which won Wyler Academy Awards for Best Director, and also won Best Picture...

 and John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

 as his influences.

Complete filmography


Resurrection of Love (Ai no Yomigaeru Hi) (1923)

Hometown (Furusato) (1923)

Dreams of Youth (Seishun no Yumeji) (1923)

Harbour of Desire (Joen no Chimata) (1923)

Song of Failure (Haisan no Uta wa Kanashi) 1923)

813 (The Adventures of Arsène Lupin) (1923)

Blood and Soul (Chi to Rei) (1923)

Foggy Harbour (Kiri no Minato) (1923)

The Night (Yoru) (1923)

In the Ruins (Haikyo no Naka) (1923)

Song of the Mountain Pass (Toge no Uta) (1924)

The Sad Idiot (Kanashiki Hakuchi) (1924)

Queen of Modern Times (Gendai no Jo) (1924)

Strong is the Female (Jose wa Tsuyoshi) (1924)

This Dusty World (Jin-Kyo) (1924)

Turkeys in a Row/The Trace of a Turkey (Shichimencho no Yukue) (1924)

Chronicle of the Rainy Season (Samidare Zoshi) (1924)

Woman of Pleasure (Kanraku no Onna) (1924)

Death at Dawn (Aka Tsuki no Shi) (1924)

Queen of the Circus (Kyokubadan no Jo) (1924)

No Money, No Fight (Musen Fusen) (1925)

Out of College (Gakuso o Idete) (1925)

The White Lily Laments (Shirayuki wa Nageku) (1925)

Under the Crimson Sunset (Akai Yuki ni Terasarete) (1925)

The Earth Smiles (Daichi wa Hohoemu) (1925)

Song of Home (Furusato no Uta) (1925)

The Human Being (Ningen) (1925)

A Sketch on the Road/Street Scenes (Gaijo no Sukechi) (1925)

General Nogi and Kuma-San (Nogi Taisho to Kuma-San) (1925)

The Copper Coin King (Doka-O) (1926)

A Paper Doll’s Whisper of Spring (Kami-Ning-Yo Haru No Sasayaki) (1926)

It’s My Fault – New Version (Shin Onoga Tsumi) (1926)

Passion of a Woman Teacher (Kyoren no Onna Shisho) (1926)

The Boy From the Sea (Kaikoku Danji) (1926)

Money/Gold (Kane/Kin) (1926)

A Woman of Rumour(1954)

The Imperial Grace (Ko-On) (1927)

The Cuckoo – New Version (Jihi Shincho) (1927)

A Man’s Life (Hito no Issho) (1928)

My Loving Daughter (Musume Kawaiya) (1928)

Bridge of Japan (Nihonbashi) (1929)

Tokyo March (Tokyo Koshin-kyoku) (1929)

The Morning Sun Shines (Asahi wa Kagayaku) (1929)

Metropolitan Symphony (Tokai Kokyogaku) (1929)

Okichi, Mistress of a Foreigner (Tojin Okichi) (1930)

Hometown (Furusato) (1930)

And Yet They Go On (Shikamo Karera wa Yuku) (1931)

Dawn in Manchuria/The Dawn of the Founding of Manchuko and Mongolia (1932)

The Man of the Moment/Timely Mediator (Toki no Ujigami) (1932)

Cascading White Threads/White Threads of the Waterfall (Taki no Shiraito) (1933)

Gion Festival (Gion Matsuri) (1933)

The Shimpu Group (Shimpu-Ren) (1933)

The Mountain Pass of Love and Hate (Aizo-Toge) (1934)

The Downfall of Osen/Osen of the Paper Cranes (Orizuro Osen) (1934)

Oyuki the Virgin (Maria no Oyuki) (1935)

The Poppy (Gubijin-so) (1935)

Osaka Elegy (Naniwa Ereji) (1936)

Sisters of Gion (Gion no Shimai/Gion no Kyodai) (1936)

The Straits of Love and Hate (Aien Kyo) (1937)

Ah, my Hometown (A, a, Furusato)(1938)

Song of the Camp (Roei no Uta) (1938)

Story of the Late Chrysanthemums (Zangiku Monogatari) (1939)

A Woman of Osaka (Naniwa Onna) (1940)

The Life of an Actor (Geido Ichidai Otoko) (1941)

The Loyal 47 Ronin of the Genroku Era (Genroku Chushingura) (1941-2, two parts)

Three Generations of Danjuro (Danjuro Sandai) (1944)

The Swordsman (Miyamoto Musashi) (1944)

The Famous Sword (Bijomaru Meito) (1945)

Victory Song (Hisshoka) (1945) Dir: Masahiro Makino and Hiroshi Shimizu (Mizoguchi directed opening sequence only)

Victory of Women (Josei no Shori) (1946)

Five Women Around Utamaro (Utamaro o Meguro Gonin no Onna) (1946)

The Loves of Actress Sumako (Joyu Sumako no Koi) (1947)

Women of the Night (Yoru no Onna Tachi)(1948)

My Love Has Been Burning (Waga Koi wa Moenu) (1949)

Portrait of Madame Yuki (Yuki Fujin Ezu) (1950)

Miss Oyu (Oyusama) (1951)

The Lady From Musashino (Musashino Fujin) (1952)

The Life of Oharu/The Life of a Woman, by Saikaku (Saikaku Ichidai Onna) (1952)

Tales of the Pale and Silvery Moon After the Rain (Ugetsu Monogatari) (1953)

Gion Festival Music (Gion Bayashi) (1953)

Sansho the Bailiff (Sansho Dayu) (1954)

A Woman of Rumour/The Crucified Woman (1954)

Crucified Lovers/A Story From Chikamatsu (Chikamatsu Monogatari) (1955)

The Empress Yang Kwei Fei (Yokihi) (1955)

Tales of the Taira Clan (Shin Heike Monogatari) (1955)

Street of Shame (Akasen Chitai) (1956)

Selected filmography

  • 1929 The Morning Sun Shines
    The Morning Sun Shines
    is a fiction-documentary film by director Kenji Mizoguchi and Seiichi Ina. Only 25 minutes of it is known to have survived....

    (朝日は輝く Asahi wa kagayaku)
  • 1929 Tokyo March
    Tokyo March
    is a 1929 black and white Japanese silent film, originally presented with benshi accompaniment, directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It is a classic melodramatic love tragedy addressing social inequality in modern Japan, depicted in Mizoguchi's typical style...

    (東京行進曲 Tōkyō kōshin-kyoku)
  • 1930 Tojin Okichi
    Tojin Okichi
    Tojin Okichi is a 1930 film by Kenji Mizoguchi based on the novel by Gisaburo Juichiya.Only 4 minutes have survived. The fragment has been published on DVD coupled with The Downfall of Osen by Digital MEME in 2007.-External links:...

    (唐人お吉 Tōjin Okichi)
  • 1933 The Water Magician
    The Water Magician
    is a 1933 black and white Japanese silent film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi and based on a story by Kyōka Izumi. It is one of the most popular titles from the silent film work of Mizoguchi and tells a tragic love story which realistically depicts the beauty and strength of the women of the Meiji...

    (滝の白糸 Taki no Shiraito)
  • 1935 The Downfall of Osen
    The Downfall of Osen
    is a 1935 black and white Japanese silent film with benshi accompaniment directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. The films centers on the theme of the strength of a woman who gives everything to the man she loves; a theme which Mizoguchi explored his whole life. The moving camera technique and bold...

    (折鶴お千 Orizuru Osen)
  • 1934 The Mountain Pass of Love and Hate
    The Mountain Pass of Love and Hate
    is a 1934 black-and-white Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.-External links:...

    (愛憎峠 Aizō tōge)
  • 1936 Sisters of the Gion
    Sisters of the Gion
    is a 1936 black and white Japanese film drama directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.The film is based on the novel Yama by Aleksandr Kuprin....

    (祇園の姉妹 Gion no shimai)
  • 1936 Naniwa Elegy
    Osaka Elegy
    is a 1936 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Mizoguchi considered the film his first serious effort as a director, and it was also his first commercial and critical success in Japan...

    aka Osaka Elegy (浪華悲歌 Naniwa hika or Naniwa erejī)
  • 1937 Straits of Love and Hate (愛怨峡 Aien kyō)
  • 1939 The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums
    The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums
    , 1939) is a Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.The film is regarded as one of Mizoguchi's greatest pre-war achievements. Especially notable is Mizoguchi's now mature mise-en-scène compositions and extreme long takes.-Synopsis:...

    (残菊物語 Zangiku monogatari)
  • 1941 The 47 Ronin
    The 47 Ronin
    is a 1941/1942 black-and-white two-part jidaigeki Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.The first part was originally released in Japan just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The film was directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, and adapted from the play by Seika Mayama...

    aka The Loyal 47 Ronin of the Genroku Era (元禄忠臣蔵 Genroku chūshingura)
  • 1944 Miyamoto Musashi (宮本武蔵)
  • 1945 The Famous Sword Bijomaru (名刀美女丸 Meitō Bijomaru)
  • 1946 Utamaro and His Five Women
    Utamaro and His Five Women
    Utamaro and His Five Women or Five Women Around Utamaro is a 1946 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It is based on the novel of the same title by Kanji Kunieda, itself a fictionalized account of the life of printmaker Kitagawa Utamaro...

    aka Five Women Around Utamaro (歌麿をめぐる五人の女 Utamaro o meguru gonin no onna)
  • 1947 The Love of the Actress Sumako
    The Love of the Actress Sumako
    is a 1947 black-and-white Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi....

    (女優須磨子の恋 Joyū Sumako no koi)
  • 1948 Women of the Night (夜の女たち Yoru no onnatachi)
  • 1949 My Love Burns (わが恋は燃えぬ Waga koi wa moenu)
  • 1950 Portrait of Madame Yuki
    Portrait of Madame Yuki
    aka A Picture of Madame Yuki, is a 1950 black and white Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.- External links :*...

    aka A Picture of Madame Yuki (雪夫人絵図 Yuki fujin ezu)
  • 1951 Miss Oyu
    Miss Oyu
    is a 1951 black-and-white Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It is based on the 1932 novel by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki.- Cast :* Kinuyo Tanaka as Oyū Kayukawa* Nobuko Otowa as Shizu* Yuji Hori as Shinnosuke Seribashi* Kiyoko Hirai as Osumi...

    (お遊さま Oyū-sama)
  • 1951 The Lady of Musashino
    The Lady of Musashino
    is a 1951 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi....

    aka Lady Musashino (武蔵野夫人 Musashino fujin)
  • 1952 The Life of Oharu
    The Life of Oharu
    is a 1952 historical fiction black-and-white film by director Kenji Mizoguchi starring Kinuyo Tanaka as Oharu, a one-time concubine of a daimyō who struggles to escape the stigma of having been sold into prostitution by her father...

    (西鶴一代女 Saikaku ichidai onna)
  • 1953 A Geisha
    A Geisha
    is a 1953 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, centred around life in post-war Gion through the relationship between an established geisha, Miyoharu, and teenaged Eiko, who pleads with Miyoharu to take her on as an apprentice or maiko...

    aka Gion Music Festival (祇園囃子 Gion bayashi)
  • 1953 Ugetsu
    Ugetsu
    Ugetsu is a 1953 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Set in 16th century Japan, it stars Masayuki Mori and Machiko Kyō, and is inspired by short stories by Ueda Akinari and Guy de Maupassant...

    aka Tales of Moonlight and Rain (雨月物語 Ugetsu monogatari)
  • 1954 The Woman in the Rumor
    The Woman in the Rumor
    is a 1954 black-and-white Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.-Cast:* Kinuyo Tanaka as Hatsuko Mabuchi* Tomoemon Otani as Kenji Matoba* Yoshiko Kuga as Yukiko Mabuchi-External links:...

    aka The Crucified Woman (噂の女 Uwasa no onna)
  • 1954 Sansho the Bailiff
    Sansho the Bailiff
    -External links:* at the Japanese Movie Database* * and QuickTime trailer* essay by Mark Le Fanu...

    (山椒大夫 Sanshō dayū)
  • 1954 The Crucified Lovers
    The Crucified Lovers
    is a 1954 black-and-white Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It was adapted from Monzaemon Chikamatsu's 17th century play Daikyoji sekireki , hence the title.-Synopsis:...

    aka A Story by Chikamatsu (近松物語 Chikamatsu monogatari)
  • 1955 Tales of the Taira Clan
    Tales of the Taira Clan
    is a 1955 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It is based on the Eiji Yoshikawa historical novel Shin Heike Monogatari. It is one of his two films in color, the other being Princess Yang Kwei-Fei of the same year.- Cast :...

    aka Taira Clan Saga (新平家物語 Shin Heike monogatari)
  • 1955 Princess Yang Kwei-Fei
    Princess Yang Kwei-Fei
    is a 1955 Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. It was a co-production between Daiei Studios and Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers Studio. It is one of Mizoguchi's two color films, the other being Tales of the Taira Clan, made the same year....

    aka The Empress Yang Kuei-Fei (楊貴妃 Yōkihi)
  • 1956 Street of Shame
    Street of Shame
    is a 1956 black-and-white Japanese film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, his last film.The film is based on the novel Susaki no Onna by Yoshiko Shibaki.-Cast:* Machiko Kyō as Mickey* Ayako Wakao as Yumeko* Aiko Mimasu as Yasumi* Michiyo Kogure as Hanae...

    (赤線地帯 Akasen chitai)

UK and US

  • Osaka Elegy (Naniwa erejî, 1936) - The Criterion Collection
    The Criterion Collection
    The Criterion Collection is a video-distribution company selling "important classic and contemporary films" to film aficionados. The Criterion series is noted for helping to standardize the letterbox format for home video, bonus features, and special editions...

     (region 1 NTSC)
  • Sisters of the Gion (Gion no shimai, 1936) - The Criterion Collection (region 1 NTSC)
  • Women of the Night (Yoru no onnatachi, 1948) - The Criterion Collection (region 1 NTSC)
  • Oyû-sama (1951) - Eureka! Masters of Cinema
    Masters of Cinema
    The Masters of Cinema organization began as a website dedicated to the most well-regarded film directors in the world. Founded by a diverse international group of like-minded film enthusiasts: Jan Bielawski, a mathematician; Doug Cummings, a graphic artist and freelance critic; Trond Trondsen, a Ph.D...

     (region 2 NTSC)
  • The Lady of Musashino (Musashino fujin, 1951) - Artificial Eye
    Artificial eye
    Artificial eye may refer to:* Visual prosthesis, functioning implant designed to restore sight* Ocular prosthesis, non-functioning cosmetic replacement for a lost eye...

     (region 2 PAL)
  • The Life of Oharu (Saikaku ichidai onna, 1952) - Artificial Eye (region 2 PAL)
  • Ugetsu monogatari (1953) - Eureka! Masters of Cinema (region 2 NTSC); The Criterion Collection (region 1 NTSC)
  • Gion bayashi (1953) - Eureka! Masters of Cinema (region 2 NTSC)
  • Sansho, the Bailiff (Sanshô dayû, 1954) - Eureka! Masters of Cinema (region 2 NTSC); The Criterion Collection (region 1 NTSC)
  • Uwasa no onna (1954) - Eureka! Masters of Cinema (region 2 NTSC)
  • Chikamatsu monogatari (1954) - Eureka! Masters of Cinema (region 2 NTSC)
  • Yôkihi (1955) - Eureka! Masters of Cinema (region 2 NTSC)
  • Street of Shame (Akasen chitai, 1956) - Eureka! Masters of Cinema (region 2 NTSC); The Criterion Collection (region 1 NTSC)

Other

  • Tokyo Koshinkyoku (1929) - Digital MEME
  • Tojin Okichi (1930, fragment) - Digital MEME
  • Taki no Shiraito (1933) - Digital MEME
  • Orizuru Osen (1935) - Digital MEME

Further reading

  • Tadao Sato (2008). Kenji Mizoguchi and the Art of Japanese Cinema ISBN 9781847882301

External links