Kenji Mizoguchi

A Story from Chikamatsu

A Story from Chikamatsu

One of a string of late-career masterworks made by Kenji Mizoguchi in the first half of the 1950s, A Story from Chikamatsu (a.k.a. The Crucified Lovers) is an exquisitely moving tale of forbidden love struggling to survive in the face of persecution. Based on a classic of eighteenth-century Japanese drama, the film traces the injustices that befall a Kyoto scroll maker’s wife and his apprentice after each is unfairly accused of wrongdoing. Bound by fate in an illicit, star-crossed romance, they go on the run in search of refuge from the punishment prescribed them: death. Shot in gorgeous, painterly style by master cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa, this delicately delivered indictment of societal oppression was heralded by Akira Kurosawa as a “great masterpiece that could only have been made by Mizoguchi.”

A Story from Chikamatsu was restored by Kadokawa Corporation and The Film Foundation with the cooperation of the Japan Foundation.

Film Info

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with actor Kyoko Kagawa
  • Mizoguchi: The Auteur Behind the “Metteur-en-scène,” a new illustrated audio essay by film scholar Dudley Andrew
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Haden Guest

New cover by Michael Boland

Purchase Options

Released Nov 13, 2018

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with actor Kyoko Kagawa
  • Mizoguchi: The Auteur Behind the “Metteur-en-scène,” a new illustrated audio essay by film scholar Dudley Andrew
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Haden Guest

New cover by Michael Boland

A Story from Chikamatsu
Cast
Kazuo Hasegawa
Mohei
Kyoko Kagawa
Osan
Yoko Minamida
Otama
Eitaro Shindo
Ishun
Sakae Ozawa
Sukeemon
Ichiro Sugai
Gembei
Haruo Tanaka
Doki
Tatsuya Ishiguro
Isan
Chieko Naniwa
Oko
Credits
Director
Kenji Mizoguchi
Producer
Masaichi Nagata
Planning
Hisaichi Tsuji
Historical research
Yoshi Ueno
Screenplay by
Yoshikata Yoda
Adaptation by
Matsutaro Kawaguchi
Based on the puppet play Daikyoji mukashi-goyomi by
Monzaemon Chikamatsu
Director of photography
Kazuo Miyagawa
Editor
Kanji Suganuma
Art director
Hiroshi Mizutani
Music by
Fumio Hayasaka
Traditional music
Tamezo Mochizuki
Traditional music
Enjiro Toyosawa
Costumes
Natsu Ito
Makeup
Masanori Kobayashi
Hairstyles
Ritsu Hanai
Sound recording
Iwao Otani

From The Current

A Story from Chikamatsu: From a Distance
A Story from Chikamatsu: From a Distance

Turning to theater for inspiration, Kenji Mizoguchi transformed a popular eighteenth-century play into a spiritually charged meditation on forbidden love and societal oppression.

By Haden Guest

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Kenji Mizoguchi

Director

Kenji Mizoguchi
Kenji Mizoguchi

Often named as one of Japan’s three most important filmmakers (alongside Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu), Kenji Mizoguchi created a cinema rich in technical mastery and social commentary, specifically regarding the place of women in Japanese society. After an upbringing marked by poverty and abuse, Mizoguchi found solace in art, trying his hand at both oil painting and theater set design before, at the age of twenty-two in 1920, enrolling as an assistant director at Nikkatsu studios. By the midthirties, he had developed his craft by directing dozens of movies in a variety of genres, but he would later say that he didn’t consider his career to have truly begun until 1936, with the release of the companion films Osaka Elegy and Sisters of the Gion, about women both professionally and romantically trapped. Japanese film historian Donald Richie called Gion “one of the best Japanese films ever made.” Over the next decade, Mizoguchi made such wildly different tours de force as The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (1939), The 47 Ronin (1941–42), and Women of the Night (1948), but not until 1952 did he break through internationally, with The Life of Oharu, a poignant tale of a woman’s downward spiral in an unforgiving society. That film paved the road to half a decade of major artistic and financial successes for Mizoguchi, including the masterful ghost story Ugetsu (1953) and the gut-wrenching drama Sansho the Bailiff (1954), both flaunting extraordinarily sophisticated compositions and camera movement. The last film Mizoguchi made before his death at age fifty-eight was Street of Shame (1956), a shattering exposé set in a bordello that directly led to the outlawing of prostitution in Japan. Few filmmakers can claim to have had such impact.