溝口健二 １９４６ ９５分 松竹京都
“Utamaro and His Five Women” Kenji Mizoguchi 1946 95 minutes
2nd time to watch this film on screen.
Combination of Mizoguchi and Miki created beautiful films during late 30s and 40s. Miki’s gray tone is quite different from Kazuo Miyagawa who shot Mizoguchi’s in 50s (since “Oyu-sama” I believe) and it bears stunning beauty. Kinuyo Tanaka is not only unbelievable in close-ups (especially in the last long shot), but also intriguing in the wide shot although she’s with “other 4 women”. That makes her a movie star i guess. The scene in which a daimyo, a feudal lord in Edo period, goes out to beach and strip his 100s of servant women to have them catch fish, was quite joyful when the tracking shot rapidly captures the women stripping off one after another almost like Busby Barkley musicals.
I have a question to make. I just saw this film on a DVD release, and the image quelity was rather poor: it is due to the DVD being made after a poor copy? or just there is no surviving copy in good condition (as in Ozu’s “chichi Ariki”)?
Very interesting film, I think it would make a terrific Triple biller with Tarkowsky’s “Andrej Rublev” and the Rembrandt biography with Charles Laughton.
I liked the considerations about the artist’s life: as the NEED of the artist to paint. It is evident what a torture is for Utamaro having his hands tied.
The somewhat air-headed disciple of Utamaro’ was a good counter-point.
Yes, the fishing scene was pretty Busby Berkeley-ish, LOL
Thanks for your commentary.
I believe there’s unfortunately no good copy of “Uatamaro and-“. Even print.
I heard Shochiku had to copy the film to 16mm from the original 35mm negative when the japanese government forced them to convert all their films to noninflamable in 1950s.
So I believe the DVD was captured from 16mm.
Atsushi, thanks for the explanation.
How sad! I wonder how many good prints of old films must have been lost in the process 🙁
Sometimes, there are DVD companies with little respect for the customer which release a film with the first copy they find (which often is not very good), that I had suspected that this was the case for “Utamaro…”, but in this case it seems that yes, they made the film/DVD from the only sources available.
yap, Only thing we can do now is to go to cinema and see it on screen.
I’ve seen “Utamaro-” on 16mm this time. It wasn’t in good quality at all, but the size of image was good enough to stimulate me to imagine how it used to be like on the original 35mm.