Life Of Oharu (1952)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

Original title:  Saikaku Ichidai Onna

Japan, 1952, .  Screenplay by Kenji Mizoguchi, , based on the novel Koshuku Ichidai Onna by .  Cinematography by , .  Produced by , Kenji Mizoguchi.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Kenji Mizoguchi’s stunning masterpiece is a heartbreaking tale of purity in a world of corruption. Based on a seventeenth-century novel by Saikaku Ihara called The Woman Who Loved Love, it tells the story of Oharu, a young woman starts off as a lady-in-waiting at the Imperial Palace of Kyoto. She falls in love with a man below her rank, for which she is expelled from the palace and her home, forcing her and her parents to live in shameful exile. Try as she might to find love in her relationships, she is constantly thwarted by her society’s low expectations for a woman’s heart and her father’s ambitions for respectability, soon descending to being a concubine, later a streetwalking prostitute. Mizoguchi’s tones are so gentle and poetic that every frame works its way into your heart, and in such a delicate manner. ‘s performance as Oharu abandons the melodramatic gestures common to Japanese film acting and goes straight for the heart. Sumptuous production design, subtle editing and a decidedly feminist message.

The Criterion Collection:  #664

Venice Film Festival: In Competition

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