Lessons From Mizoguchi

On Film / Short Takes — Sep 15, 2016

This week, we were proud to release Kenji Mizoguchi’s 1939 film The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum, a devastating meditation on the costs of artistic ambition that showcases the director’s luminous visual style at its most sophisticated. In the inaugural post in its new online column Criterion Crash Course, MovieMaker magazine mines the film and the special features on our release for material that will be instructive for any independent filmmaker. Writer Caleb Hammond examines the master’s alternation between motion and stasis, achieved through his celebrated long takes and expressive camera movements, and highlights the ways in which the film “openly challenges traditional filmmaking at every turn.” From its formal and technical complexity to its potent social commentary, Mizoguchi’s early-career masterpiece offers a rich learning experience for directors seeking to hone their craft.