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Ugetsu

Kenji Mizoguchi, along with Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirō Ozu, is one of the pillars of the classical Japanese cinema, and perhaps no film better represents his oeuvre than the haunting, poetic ghost story Ugetsu. Set in Azuchi–Momoyama period Japan (late 16th Century), the film centers around two peasant couples displaced by war, in particular the marauding army of Shibata Katsuie. Potter Genjurō (Masayuki Mori of Rashomon fame) initially seeks to profit from the chaos of war by moving his wares to a nearby village and raising prices. His wife, Miyagi (Machiko Kyō, Rashomon) warns him against this callously capitalistic behavior, but the stubborn, desperate Genjurō continues, which sets off a chain of events that will irreversibly shake the foundations of their lives—and threaten to keep them apart forever. An evocative, harrowing masterpiece like few others, Ugetsu “stand[s] at the summit of cinema . . . there are moments in the picture, famous ones, that I’ve seen again and again and that always take my breath away . . . just to think of these moments now fills me with awe and wonder.”—Martin Scorsese. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Genres: Drama