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12:40   2:50   4:50   7:00   9:15

Final Day - Thursday, March 9

Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi


(1953) “I never knew such pleasures existed.” During 16th century civil wars, village potter Masayuki Mori (Rashomon, The Bad Sleep Well, Floating Clouds) decides to go for the ryu and leave wife Kinuyo Tanaka (star of fifteen Mizoguchi movies) behind to sell his wares in town, there to be seduced by ghost princess Machiko Kyō (the rape victim of Kurosawa’s Rashomon). But when the spell is finally broken, he returns to a devastated village. The illusory nature of ambition and desire is reinforced by the superb photography of Kazuo Miyagawa (Rashomon, Yojimbo, Life of Oharu) — “beautifully atmospheric, all long shots, long takes and graceful camera movements” (Donald Richie) — and powerful playing by the star trio. (After Mori’s final scene of awakening, Mizoguchi, a non-smoking, actor-disdaining dictator on the set, personally lit up a congratulatory cigarette for the star.) Adapted from Akinari Ueda’s 1776 collection of tales of the supernatural — and a de Maupassant story. Venice Silver Lion winner (Mizoguchi’s second in a row) and for many years a regular on Ten-Best-of-All-Time lists. DCP restoration. Approx. 97 mins.

Restored by The Film Foundation and Kadokawa Corporation at Cineric, Inc. in New York. Special thanks to Masahiro Miyajima and Martin Scorsese for their consultation.



Click here for a beautiful gallery of Ugetsu poster art compiled by Adrian Curry for Mubi. 

“RAVISHING. At once monumental and light as mist. With rare humanity, Mizoguchi reveals the toll these misadventures take on the souls of both men and their wives, many moments an uncanny synthesis of the realistic and the otherworldly. This is one of world cinema’s greatest films, beautifully restored, never more alive than when it crosses into death.”
– Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice

Time Out (London)

– Philip Lopate

“ONE OF THE GREATEST EXPERIENCES OF CINEMA! The mood is evoked by the English translation most often given to its title, ‘Tales of the Pale and Silvery Moon After the Rain.’ Less a study of the supernatural than a sublime embodiment of Mizoguchi’s eternal theme, the generosity of women and the selfishness of men. Densely plotted, but as emotionally subtle as its name.”
– Dave Kehr

“The heroes are rough-hewn and consumed by ambition, but the film style is elegant and mysterious, and somehow we know before we are told that this is a ghost story… At the end, aware we have seen a fable, we also feel curiously as if we have witnessed true lives and fates.”
– Roger Ebert

“Mizoguchi is a filmmaker of astonishing contrasts and extremes. He’s one of the most furious and fiercely critical political filmmakers of all time, in any country. […] In effect, Mizoguchi is both Japan’s John Ford, with his emphasis on history and legend, and its Max Ophüls, with the grandly operatic resonances of his highly stylized images.”
– Richard Brody

One of the most celebrated ghost stories in movie history […] fluid, apparently seamless technique.”
– The New York Times

“Mizoguchi followed in the footsteps of Murnau, investigating the potential for emotional expression through camera motion and placement.”
– Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

“Mizoguchi’s best-known work, based on two stories by the 18th century writer Akinari Ueda (often described as the Japanese Maupassant), was one of a handful of Japanese films to sweep up numerous awards at European festivals in the early ‘50s. Its reputation as one of Mizoguchi’s finest works and a landmark of the Japanese ‘art’ cinema has remained undented ever since. The director’s unique establishment of atmosphere by means of long shot, long takes, sublimely graceful and unobtrusive camera movement, is everywhere evident in his treatment of the legend of a potter who leaves his family to market his wares during the ravages of a civil war, and is taken in and seduced by a ghost princess. A ravishingly composed, evocatively beautiful film.”
– Rod McShane, Time Out (London)

“[A] mysterious, incantatory, gorgeous parable.”
- Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine

Film Forum