Ugetsu Monogatari (1953)

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Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Cast: Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyo

Synopsis

In the sixteenth century, during a period of civil war, two peasant villagers, one a ne'er-do-well who dreams of being a samurai, the other a potter greedy for wealth, abandon their womenfolk and live to regret it.

The Review

The Ugetsu stories, a title informs us, deal with the world of mystery, and there are indeed swirling mists and a beautiful ghost here, but the charm of the film lies in its Chaucerian tale of greed and the illusion of chivalry, set against a realistic backdrop of medieval rural life. Interestingly, given its dramatic slightness and unostentatious technique, it found its way onto critics' top tens during the fifties, which probably had more to do with the novelty of an Eastern approach to imagery and performance than anything else.