Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sight & Sound Challenge: The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939)

Film: The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (170/250) 
First Time/Rewatch: First Time

This is my third film by director Kenji Mizoguchi. Although relatively new to his work, the first two films I saw moved me enough to include him in my list of great directors for our director poll from a few months ago. While this one took a little while for me to get into, I was eventually sucked into the story about forbidden love, ambition, and sacrifice. Mizoguchi has a very particular way of portraying human suffering, particularly the suffering of women. The women in his films suffer nobly, out of duty, and out of a love for the men in their lives. At no point do these women seem foolish or naive; their performances are genuine and heartbreaking. This film's martyr is Otoku (Kakuko Mori), a woman who gives up everything to help her husband's acting career and relationship with his family, which is only suffering because of his involvement with her. It's a subtle and moving performance, completely in line with the other Mizoguchi performances I was referring to. I can't wait to see more of his work...watching a film of his feels like a lesson in being human. 

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