Ugetsu

By the time he made Ugetsu, Kenji Mizoguchi was already an elder statesman of Japanese cinema, fiercely revered by Akira Kurosawa and other directors of a younger generation. And with this exquisite ghost story, a fatalistic wartime tragedy derived from stories by Akinari Ueda and Guy de Maupassant, he created a touchstone of his art, his long takes and sweeping camera guiding the viewer through a delirious narrative about two villagers whose pursuit of fame and fortune leads them far astray from their loyal wives. Moving between the terrestrial and the otherworldly, Ugetsu reveals essential truths about the ravages of war, the plight of women, and the pride of men.


Ugetsu was restored by The Film Foundation and Kadokawa Corporation at Cineric Laboratories in New York. Special thanks to Masahiro Miyajima and Martin Scorsese for their consultation on this restoration. Restoration funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in association with The Film Foundation and Kadokawa Corporation.

Film Info

  • Kenji Mizoguchi
  • Japan
  • 1953
  • 97 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.37:1
  • Japanese
  • Spine #309

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary by critic, filmmaker, and festival programmer Tony Rayns
  • Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director, a 1975 documentary by Kaneto Shindo
  • Two Worlds Intertwined, a 2005 appreciation of Ugetsu by Masahiro Shinoda
  • Process and Production, a 2005 interview with Tokuzo Tanaka, first assistant director on Ugetsu
  • Interview from 1992 with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa
  • Trailers
  • An essay by film critic Phillip Lopate (Blu-ray and DVD) and three short stories that influenced Mizoguchi in making the film (Blu-ray only)

Cover by Michael Boland

Purchase Options

Collector's Sets

Collector's Set

Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films

Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films

DVD Box Set

50 Discs

$650.00

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary by critic, filmmaker, and festival programmer Tony Rayns
  • Kenji Mizoguchi: The Life of a Film Director, a 1975 documentary by Kaneto Shindo
  • Two Worlds Intertwined, a 2005 appreciation of Ugetsu by Masahiro Shinoda
  • Process and Production, a 2005 interview with Tokuzo Tanaka, first assistant director on Ugetsu
  • Interview from 1992 with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa
  • Trailers
  • An essay by film critic Phillip Lopate (Blu-ray and DVD) and three short stories that influenced Mizoguchi in making the film (Blu-ray only)

Cover by Michael Boland

Ugetsu
Cast
Machiko Kyo
Lady Wakasa
Masayuki Mori
Genjuro
Kinuyo Tanaka
Miyagi
Sakae Ozawa
Tobei
Mitsuko Mito
Ohama
Kikue Mori
Ukon
Ryosuke Kagawa
Village headman
Ichiro Amano
Boatman
Sugisaku Aoyama
Old priest
Ichisaburo Sawamura
Genichi
Credits
Director
Kenji Mizoguchi
Producer
Masaichi Nagata
From Tales of Moonlight and Rain by
Akinari Ueda
Screenplay
Matsutaro Kawaguchi
Screenplay
Yoshikata Yoda
Director of photography
Kazuo Miyagawa
Art director
Kisaku Ito
Set designer
Uichiro Yamamoto
Costumes
Shima Yoshimi
Costumes
Tadaoto Kainosho
Music
Fumio Hayasaka
Sound
Iwao Otani
Sound
Akira Suzuki
Editor
Mitsuzo Miyata
Makeup
Zenya Fukuyama
Hair
Ritsu Hanai

From The Current

The Thin Line Between Reality and Fantasy in Ugetsu
The Thin Line Between Reality and Fantasy in Ugetsu

Japanese New Wave director Masahiro Shinoda discusses how Kenji Mizoguchi seamlessly weaves together harsh realism and spellbinding fantasy in his masterpiece Ugetsu.

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

The Versatile Artistry of Japan’s Most Revered Cinematographer
The Versatile Artistry of Japan’s Most Revered Cinematographer

Acclaimed DP John Bailey delves into the extraordinary career of one of the towering figures of golden-age Japanese cinema.

Ari Aster’s Top 10
Ghostly Mizoguchi in Missouri

Repertory Picks

Ghostly Mizoguchi in Missouri

For the Ragtag Cinema in Columbia, Missouri, filmmaker David Lowery selects Ugetsu as a work that influenced his acclaimed new drama A Ghost Story.

Happily Ever After?
Happily Ever After?
The glittering surfaces of classic fairy tales often mask undercurrents of emotional torment, spiritual foreboding, and moral transgression. This week, our latest series on the Criterion Channel, Happily Ever After?, showcases the deviant forces lurk…
Sight & Sound Poll 2012: Ugetsu
Sight & Sound Poll 2012: Ugetsu
Every ten years since 1952, the world-renowned film magazine Sight & Sound has polled a wide international selection of film critics and directors on what they consider to be the ten greatest works of cinema ever made, and then compiled the resul…

Explore

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.