Short Reflections from the Silver Screen: Ugetsu Monogatari
Japan. 1953. Kenji Mizogushi.
This is my first introduction to Kenji Mizoguchi’s work and I am mesmerised by it; I am left uncertain as to whether I witnessed a fable, a horror story, a love story, a fantasy or a true-life story of fate. It is simply remarkable storytelling and such seems to be the beauty of this work, which literally formulates as a single flourish of storytelling and style, despite the multitude of themes. Everything is united, but there is no deadlock, the film does not try to startle or shock, it simply continues along its path of quiet revelation.
The camera flows through each scene like a calligrapher and his pen. The style is charmingly poetic and the characters rather delightful, despite their odd bit of goofy nature. The films elegance, mystery and primitive constructs feel like a series of paintings. There is the famous lake scene with it haunting and comparatively beautiful backdrop of fog and mist; it is a mind-blowing piece of cinematography and filmmaking. Even the boats in their esoteric design are completely alluring, as are the markets and all the buildings so wonderfully erected for a 16th century Japan. Enter Mizoguchi’s enchanting and curiously realist world and you will find a perfect film language.
*All reflections are from my film journal.