Chikamatsu monogatari | 近松物語 | The Crucified Lovers [1954]

7/10 | 9.Apr.12
Chikamatsu monogatari | 近松物語 | The Crucified Lovers

DIRECTOR: Kenji Mizoguchi | WRITERS: Yoshikata Yoda, Matsutarô Kawaguchi | CAST: Kazuo Hasegawa, Kyôko Kagawa, Eitarô Shindô, Eitarô Ozawa, Yôko Minamida, Haruo Tanaka, Chieko Naniwa, Ichirô Sugai | Japan

The Crucified Lovers is Mizoguchi’s film adaptation of a Chikamatsu bunraku play, and while Mizoguchi retains some elements from bunraku and kabuki (occasional almost danced movements, insistent wood percussion to heighten some sequences), they’re used chiefly as accents and punctuation. The plot involves a young woman whose much older husband is a wealthy but miserly printer to the Imperial Household and the problems that ensue when out of a sense of honor and the desire not to bring shame on her family she attempts to secure money to repay her dissolute brother’s considerable debts. Mizoguchi expertly handles the complications of the plot which at points approaches the intricacy of farce. I suspect I’d score it a bit higher if I were to see it on a big screen since it’s so beautiful to watch : the production design is exquisite.

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