Ejima to Ikushima (Lady Ejima and Ikushima The Actor)
“In 1711, Lady Ejima, head of the ladies-in-waiting to the Shogunal court, was reported to have caroused with actors after an official visit to the grave of the late Shogun; it was also discovered that she had had an affair with one Ikushima Shugoro, an actor at the Yamamura-za. Ejima and a younger brother were exiled, her elder brother, as head of the family, was executed, Ikushima was exiled, sixty-seven court maids were placed under lifetime house arrest, four Edo theaters were closed and the Yamamura-za was torn down.
“But here, the story of Ejima becomes the framework for a careful delineation of jealousy and betrayal in the women's quarters of the Shogun's court, the Ôoka: Ejima, a straightforward and loyal lady-in-waiting to the mother of the Shogun (a young boy), is not only tempted by a lady jealous of her position, but practically forced into corruption, i.e., the affair with Ikushima, by her own mistress who is out to save her own neck. Ejima had seen her with her lover and therefore must be forced into a kind of complicity to prevent her from informing the authorities. In the world of the Ôoka, political power is the goal, no one can trust another, and betrayal comes from one's closest friends.
“Although this film is sadly marred by the faded color, it is a beautiful example of the period films of the early fifties which were distinguished not only by an acute political sensibility, but by an attention to performance and pacing usually identified with the subtle character development of films about contemporary life. Awashima Chikage is particularly effective as the victim of both political and personal betrayal.”